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Phishing and genuine requests for payment from the Planning Portal

by on May 25, 2021

Since 2002, the Planning Portal has helped to transform the planning process, making information and services simpler and more accessible for those involved in the process. However, as much as technology in general has brought much opportunity and convenience into our everyday lives, predictably there will always be those that try to exploit technology for their own gains.

Email fraud is often seen on a large scale, such as attacks on PayPal, HMRC or banking services, where ‘scammers’ use various tactics to gather account or bank details and get people to pay for products or services they haven’t agreed to. This is also known as ‘phishing’. Consequently, one of the important questions for users of the Planning Portal is, “How do I know that a request for payment of an application is genuine?”

Due to this risk with any online transaction, we advise that you please ensure you are vigilant and question any requests for payment or information from a source that you think is suspicious.

If you are in any doubt about a communication you have received from us, or which appears to be from us, please contact our Support Team on support@planningportal.co.uk. The Support Team will need to see the email you are querying in order to verify whether or not it is genuine.

For your peace of mind, you can be sure that the Planning Portal will:

  • Only ever send you emails from an email address ending with @planningportal.co.uk or @terraquest.co.uk*
  • Only email a PDF with our bank account information, not provide account information in emails we send to you.
  • Only send emails concerning an application to the applicant and/or assigned planning agent and the planning team at your local council, also known as the Local Planning Authority.
  • Include the reference number of the planning application in email correspondence.

The Planning Portal will not:

  • Send you emails from any address that doesn’t end with @planningportal.co.uk or @terraquest.co.uk*
  • For example, emails from us will never end in @gmail.com or @hotmail.co.uk.
  • Include links in transactional emails that are not from our address ending in planningportal.co.uk.
  • Contact you by text message.
  • Include our bank account information in emails, we will instead provide a PDF for you to access our account details.

Be sure to report misleading websites, emails, phone numbers, phone calls or text messages you think are dubious. Do not reply to text messages, download attachments or click on any links in emails if you’re not sure they’re genuine. You can report a misleading website, email or phone number to the National Cyber Security Centre (NCSC).

You can find out more on how to be vigilant and what qualifies as a suspicious email from Which?, a not-for-profit consumer advice organisation – Which?: How to spot an email scam. In addition, Which? also offer a scam alert service, offering the latest alerts and advice to help you protect yourself.

*The Planning Portal is an online application service provided by PortalPlanQuest and supports the submission of planning application information to Local Planning Authorities in accordance with statutory regulations. PortalPlanQuest Limited (reg. no 09400439) is a joint venture between the Ministry of Housing Communities and Local Government (MHCLG) and TerraQuest Solutions Limited.

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