The digital age that has brought us countless benefits. An endless amount of information is available at one’s fingertips. Online shopping has faster shipping. Finding a good or service is quick and painless. While all of these perks bring a great benefit to our lives in terms of convenience, technology has also opened us up to a gastly number of scams.
Spam is nothing new. People have been sending spam emails and making unwanted phone calls for a long time. There is a reason that telemarketers are so disliked in the United States. Receiving spam messages or calls of any kind is downright annoying. The bigger issue is that current technology continues to enable it. In May 2022, a staggering number of spam texts were sent, reaching a total of 11.94 billion. This means that on average, almost 43 spam texts were received by each person residing in the United States. Though fraudulent calls have decreased, scam texting has taken its place by increasing 145%.
What’s scariest is that criminals employ spam text messages to deceive individuals through the use of viruses or malware. They do this by enticing people to click on seemingly harmless links, which, in reality, download malicious software onto their devices. This malware can then be used to gain access to sensitive information, such as usernames, passwords, social security numbers, credit card details, and PINs, enabling criminals to commit fraudulent activities or engage in identity theft.
The issue with spam text messages is that they can’t be ignored as easily as an email or phone call. As you’re reading this you likely have an email inbox full of unanswered or unopened emails that will likely just get deleted or continue to be ignored. If you get a phone call from an unknown number, you can silence your phone until it stops ringing (if it’s someone you know they’ll likely leave a voicemail).
It’s unlikely that you have hundreds of unopened text messages, however. This is what makes potential scammers utilize text messages more and more. In this article, we’ll go over how to identify a fake text message as well as some spam text message examples.
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How to Tell if a Text Message is a Scam
Phishing scams have become more sophisticated over time, making them more difficult to recognize. As a result, the ability to recognize a fraudulent SMS message is a continuous effort.
Be on the watch for the following forms of spam texts:
Is the sender well-known (like Amazon or Apple, which are the most frequently mimicked brands in all phishing scams) yet the writing is sloppy, full of typos, or does it sound like it’s written in poor English? Then it’s likely a scam and should be avoiding at all costs.
It creates a sense of urgency.
It sounds like something’s amiss with your account or payment method, therefore the sender wants you to fix it right away. Creating a sense of urgency is a certain technique to get you to feel anxious and as if you HAVE to do something right away. This technique is common among spammers because people don’t make the best decisions when they’re anxious.
It isn’t personal
While scammers may have some information about you, they likely don’t have all of it. This means that their messages likely won’t have the same sort of personal touch that you would expect from a company that you regularly do business with.
It’s too good to be true
As the old saying goes, “If it’s too good to be true then it probably is.” Unfortunately this is just a reality of the world we live in. Scammers generally won’t present you with a run of the mill “offer”. They want to excite you and get you to engage with them or visit whatever link they send. Avoid entertaining anything that sounds like it’s too good of an offer.
Let’s check out some specific examples of spam text messages
Congratulations! You’ve Won!
A surprise award sounds like a wonderful opportunity. In contrast, receiving a text message notifying you of winning an unrelated contest is a sure sign that you’ve been phished. When in doubt about an offer’s authenticity, contact the company directly.
The IRS is Attempting to Reach Out to You.
You will not be contacted by email, phone, or text message by government organizations such as the IRS. Mail or certified letter is the most common method of communication for any legal government entity. The IRS is not going to text you about anything related to your standing with them, but plenty of people do fall for this text message scam.
You’re owed a refund!
Ahhh, who doesn’t love finding out they’re getting a refund for something? I know I do. Unfortunately, this is a common tactic used by scammers all over the place. It will often follow up with questions about your bank account so that they can send your refund to the right place. Don’t fall for it.
Validate Your Banking Account
Scams posing as well-known financial companies like Bank of America, Wells Fargo, and Chase have in the past allowed fraudsters to obtain large amounts of customer banking information.
Legitimate businesses will never ask you for your personal or financial information by text message, even if they claim to be trustworthy. Consequently, it is quite unlikely that your bank will send you a random verification text message.
There Is a Package Delivery
Amazon and FedEx deliveries have become so frequent that a text notification about a product or purchase would be easy to miss, especially when they are so common. While valid shipping updates are sent by shippers, they will never seek personal information or money to finish a shipment.
Apple iCloud Account Verification
Messages that ask you to authenticate your Apple ID or other technological account are questionable. If you have any reason to believe that your account has been compromised, you should immediately notify the firm and change your passwords. The same goes with your Google account.
As with any other freebie, you should exercise extreme caution when accepting an offer of “free” bitcoin. No one is giving away free crypto, and especially not via text message.
It’s the Police
This is a relatively new scam. Apparently thieves are pretending to be police officers and texting/ calling individuals asking them for donations to the department. Don’t fall for this one.
The police are not going to text you. Period. Unless you’re living in Mayberry, any text you receive that says it’s from the police is almost most guaranteed to be a scam. To top it off, the cops aren’t going to ask you for any sort of donations or banking info over the phone.
To report unwanted texts to the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) and the Federal Communications Commission (FCC), there are specific steps you can follow. For reporting to the FTC, start by visiting their official website. Look for the ‘Report Now’ option and click on it. From there, choose the category ‘Phone, internet, TV service’ followed by ‘Cellular or landline phone service.’ After this, click the Continue button to proceed.
To forward a scam text message to the spam account, you can follow these steps:
1. Open your messaging app: Locate the scam text message that you would like to report.
2. Take a screenshot: Capture a screenshot of the entire text message conversation or page where the scam text came through. This will help provide the necessary information for reporting.
3. Identify the sender’s phone number: On the screenshot, check for any information regarding the sender’s phone number. This is crucial for forwarding it to the appropriate authorities.
4. Compose a new message: Start a new text message and address it to the spam reporting number. In some cases, this number may be identified as “SPAM” or coded as digits like +44 7726 7726 7726 7726 7726 7726.
5. Add the sender’s phone number: At the top of the message, insert the suspected scammer’s phone number, preceded by “From:” or similar notation. This allows the authorities to identify the source of the scam text.
6. Send the forwarded message: Once you have completed these steps, send the forwarded message to the spam reporting number. This will help the appropriate authorities investigate and take action against scammers.
Once you’ve reached this stage, you will be guided through a quick questionnaire about the unwanted text message. It will ask for information such as the number that sent the message and details about the incident. By answering these questions, you will provide the necessary information to the FTC for their investigation.
In addition, if you wish to report junk texts to the FCC, you can visit their Consumer Inquiries and Complaint Center. On their website, you will find a short form that needs to be filled out. Make sure to provide your email address and provide as much relevant detail as possible to aid in their investigation. Reporting scams not only protects yourself but also helps safeguard others from falling victim to similar fraudulent activities.
While text messaging services like CloudContactAI offer a convenient way for legitimate businesses to communicate with existing and potential customers, it’s crucial to remain cautious of text messages received. We strive to provide informative content that educates users on how to avoid scams, but ultimately, it is your responsibility to be vigilant. The most important takeaway from this article is to exercise caution when encountering text messages that seem too good to be true. Trust your instincts, and if in doubt, reach out to the company the text message claims to be from to verify its authenticity.