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  • Writer's pictureTara Grey

4 Fake Text Message Scams to Watch Out For

It used to be that you only had to worry about fake messages coming in by email. But now cybercriminals are getting a hold of cell phone numbers and sending scam text messages.

If you’re like most people, you own a cell phone, and you may have even had a tutoring session on how to get around it. You most likely use text messages from time to time. Communicating by text/SMS is becoming a surrogate for both phone and email conversations.

You probably get text messages several times a week. They may be messages from your family or friends. They could also be text messages you receive for shipment notifications or prescription refills.

While not everyone opens all email messages they receive, because so many of them are spam, most people open every single text message.

82% of people say that they open all text messages they receive.

Unfortunately, those text messages may not all be legitimate. Hackers that used to send phishing mainly by email are now learning that they can have a better chance of tricking someone into clicking a malicious link if they send it by text message.

“Smishing,” which is the term for phishing by text message (also known as SMS) is growing. Three major reasons for this are:

  1. It’s easier to get lists of mobile phone numbers than it used to be

  2. Scammers have found that users aren’t yet as wary about unexpected text messages as they are emails

  3. Phones hold all kinds of lucrative personal details and login information (online baking, etc.)

While a lot of people have learned over the years how to spot a phishing email, they’re completely in the dark about scam text messages. Here are several types of fake text message scams that you need to watch out for.

Is That Shipping Notice Legitimate?

Getting text message updates about your online order shipments is convenient. You can know right away when a package is delivered to your door, so you can retrieve it before a “porch pirate” happens by.

Many people don’t think twice about clicking a link in a shipment notice either for tracking or to update preferences. However, scammers are taking advantage of this fact and sending fake tracking notices that claim a package is held up until the recipient updates their delivery preferences.

When the person clicks the link, a phishing site can infect their device with malware. Another scam is to send the person to a form that asks for personal information that can be used for identity or credit card theft.

It’s always best to never interact directly with links you receive via text message or email. Instead, go to a retailer’s or shipper’s site directly to check on your order shipments.

Promises of Free Prizes or Gift Cards

Another scam is a text that makes it look as if you’ve just hit the jackpot and won a free prize or gift card of some type. It’s not unusual for a person to participate in a variety of online contests, they’re often promoted by sites like AARP, MasterCard, and other legitimate organizations.

So, getting a text message like this out of the blue might have a person thinking that it’s from some contest they entered at some time. But the link in the text is often to a malicious site.

According to a recent settlement between the FTC and one such scammer, millions of unsolicited text messages were sent to people enticing them to claim their free merchandise. If they clicked the link, they were sent to third-party websites that collected their personal information.

Offer of a Low or No Interest Credit Card

Another SMS scam going around looks like a message from your bank offering you a no or low-interest credit card. Many people would jump at the chance and are used to getting these types of solicitations by mail and email.

Payoff Help for Loans

One text message scam is targeted to consumers with student loan debt. It offers to get them relief through government programs. People that sent the scam money, lost that money and of course, there was no loan assistance as promised.

What Should You Do If You Get a Scam Text Message?

  • Block any unknown numbers

  • Don’t click any text message links

  • Check tracking or other updates via a legitimate website, not from a text message

  • Don’t reply to unknown text messages

  • Keep an eye on your bank accounts for any fraudulent charges

Get Help Avoiding Phishing Scams

Millions of people fall for phishing scams by email, phone, and text message every day. Reduce your risk by scheduling a CompuTara tutoring session to learn how to spot these fakes.

Schedule an online safety tutoring session today! Call or text me at: 862-368-4893 or Email me here.

I HIGHLY recommend MalwareBytes as your number 1 security software!


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