With political season ramping up and with more legit companies sending info to your phone, you are probably getting more text messages from people you don’t know. You have to be careful. This past year, the AARP says $137 million was lost from fraud that started with scam texts. We will explain the newest ways these messages are being used so you know what to look out for.
Common fake text message topics
Of course, you probably know fake texts will probably have misspellings or just look off. But there are popular topics these thieves use to trick you into clicking on the link.
Wrong number message
The Better Business Bureau says there’s been a huge jump in “wrong number” texts where the person acts like they know you and then tries to get your personal information.
For example, “Hey is this John? It’s Amanda. We chatted on Tinder before when I came to visit my cousin but we never met IRL (in real life). I’m back in town if you want to meet up this time, are you free?”
When you respond that they have the wrong number, they try to engage you with a sexy photo, the BBB warns, then encourage you to register for dating or adult websites and eventually give up your credit card number.
Your actual bank may send you messages so this one might trip you up. The person may pressure people to “log in” to a bank website to verify a purchase.
Credit card warning
Some phony messages appear to be from your credit card company. It could say your card is frozen for fraud and you need to check out the charges. It’s tempting to click on this!
Promise of refund
Who doesn’t want free money? You don’t. It’s probably a fake text.
Package delivery details
Another popular scam trick right now is to send a message asking about a package delivery. You might shop online often and may have even signed up for delivery alerts. With these fake texts, the person will ask for you to confirm the best delivery time. It’s best to just contact the company you are expecting a delivery from, to make sure this is legit.
Don’t respond to any fake messages!
You might be tempted to respond to a known fake text with something like, “STOP” or “NO!!” - but resist the urge. Even this can get you in trouble. Responding could show your number is active and it can be sold to other criminals.
Take steps to filter unwanted messages or block them before they reach you. Several mobile phone providers allow you to block a sender by forwarding unwanted texts to 7726 (“SPAM”). Check with your provider about this and other blocking options available on your phone, through your wireless provider, or using a call-blocking app.
What to do if you get a text message you think is fake
Report scam texts to the FCC, the FTC, the FBI’s Internet Crime Complaint Center, and to the entity whose name appears in the suspect message. You might also come across fake cryptocurrency messages. Even if a friend sends it to you, don’t click on it.
“Anybody should ever buy crypto off of a link that is sent to you or to go to some random website,” said author Clayton Rawlings, “You’re just asking for trouble. It’s just too easy to be taken advantage of.”
Bitcoin expert Clayton Rawlings recommends if you do want to look into cryptocurrency use the website Coinbase, which has been around a while and has added security measures. In the Ask Amy episode that airs on KPRC2+, hear more from Rawlings about investing in crypto including the best way to get started, and the safest ways to invest your money.