Is that text spam? How to recognize suspicious text messages

Person holding a cellphone (WDIV)
Person holding a cellphone (WDIV)

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

Scammers also send fake messages that say they have some information about your account or a transaction. The scammers may

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.

With a call-blocking app: Some call-blocking apps also let you block unwanted text messages. Go to ctia.org for a list of call-blocking apps for Android, BlackBerry, Apple, and Windows phones.

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:


About the Author:

Ken Haddad is the digital special projects manager for WDIV / ClickOnDetroit.com. He also authors the Morning Report Newsletter and various other newsletters. He's been with WDIV since 2013.