Scam text messages are on the rise -- but how do you know for sure if a text is suspicious or not?
Here are some tips from the Federal Trade Commission on how to spot scam, spam of phishing text messages on your mobile device.
Spam Text Messages and Phishing
Scammers send fake text messages to trick you into giving them your personal information – things like your password, account number, or Social Security number. If they get that information, they could gain access to your email, bank, or other accounts. Or they could sell your information to other scammers.
The scammers use a variety of ever-changing stories to try to rope you in. They may
- offer you a low or no interest credit card
- promise to help you pay off your student loans
Scammers also send fake messages that say they have some information about your account or a transaction. The scammers may
- say they’ve noticed some suspicious activity on your account
- claim there’s a problem with your payment information
- send you a fake invoice and tell you to contact them if you didn’t authorize the purchase
The messages might ask you to give some personal information — like how much money you make, how much you owe, or your bank account, credit card, or Social Security number — to claim your gift or pursue the offer. Or they may tell you to click on a link to learn more about the issue. Some links may take you to a spoofed website that looks real but isn’t. If you log in, the scammers can then steal your user name and password.
Other messages may install harmful malware on your phone that steals your personal information without you realizing it.
What to Do About Spam Text Messages
If you get a text message that you weren’t expecting and it asks you to give some personal information, don’t click on any links. Legitimate companies won’t ask for information about your account by text.
If you think the message might be real, contact the company using a phone number or website you know is real. Not the information in the text message.
There are many ways you can filter unwanted text messages or stop them before they reach you.
On your phone: Your phone may have an option to filter and block messages from unknown senders or spam. Here’s how to filter and block messages on an iPhone and how to block a phone number on an Android phone.
Through your wireless provider: Your wireless provider may have a tool or service that lets you block calls and texts messages. Check ctia.org, a website for the wireless industry, to learn about the options from different providers.
You can also search for apps online. Check out the features, user ratings, and expert reviews.
How to Report Spam Text Messages
If you get an unwanted text message, there are three ways to report it:
- Report it on the messaging app you use. Look for the option to report junk or spam.
- Copy the message and forward it to 7726 (SPAM).
- Report it to the Federal Trade Commission at ftc.gov/complaint.