Learn How to Spot Common Phone and Text Message Scams

Staying safe and protecting yourself from fraud

Learn How to Spot Common Phone and Text Message Scams

Phone and text scams are becoming more common these days. You may have noticed an increase in the number of text messages and calls that appear to be legitimate but are fraudulent.

For example, you may receive a text message claiming that your UPS package was delivered to the wrong location. The message may ask you to click on a link to track your package, but you never ordered any package in the first place. Similarly, you may receive a call from your phone carrier informing you that your cell phone service is about to be shut off due to non-payment and that you must pay over the phone. However, you have already paid your bill. You may suspect the call or text is a scam in such situations. However, some scammers can be very convincing, making identifying their fraudulent calls or texts difficult.

Jack was a diligent worker who loved his job and was proud of being financially responsible. One day, while he was at work, he received a voicemail claiming to be from his bank, urging him to call immediately because unauthorized charges had been made on his account. The number they gave him to call was a long-distance number. Jack immediately called the number provided in the message. The person on the other end sounded official and asked Jack for his account information. Thinking he was speaking to a legitimate bank representative, Jack gave out his account details without a second thought. The next day, Jack got an email notification from his bank that his account had been emptied of all its funds. Jack called his bank and realized he had been scammed.

From that day on, Jack became more cautious regarding his phone and the messages he received. He learned to always verify the source of a message before giving out any personal information. Jack's experience serves as a warning to all of us to be vigilant and never let our guard down regarding scammers and phishing attempts.

It is helpful to be aware of many popular phone and text message scams to protect yourself from potential fraud or identity theft. Here are a few of the most common ones:

  1. The phishing scam: This is when a scammer sends a message or makes a call that appears to be from a legitimate company, such as a bank or credit card company and asks for personal information like your account number, password, or social security number. The scammer then uses this information to steal your identity.
  2. Callback/Voicemail Scam, someone leaves a voicemail requesting an immediate callback, often using high-pressure tactics.
  3. The tech support scam is when a scammer calls or sends a message claiming to be from a tech company, like Microsoft or Apple, and tells you that your computer has a virus or other problem that needs fixing. The scammer then asks you to pay for their services to fix the problem, or to download software that will give them access to your computer.
  4. The prize or gift scam is when a scammer sends a message or calls claiming that you have won a prize or gift, like a vacation or a new phone. However, to claim the prize, you must pay a fee or provide personal information, like your credit card or social security number. Once the scammer has this information, they can use it to steal your money or identity.
  5. A charity scam is when a scammer calls or sends a message claiming to be from a charity and asks for a donation. However, the charity is fake, and the money you donate goes directly to the scammer.
  6. A One-Ring Scam is when someone calls you, rings once, and then hangs up, hoping you’ll call them back.

It's important to be cautious when receiving unsolicited phone calls or text messages, especially if they ask for personal information or money. If you're unsure if a call or message is legitimate, it's best to err on the side of caution and not provide any information or make any payments until you can confirm the request's legitimacy.

Terms you should know:

  1. Smishing, or SMS (Text Message) phishing, is an attempt to get your personal information through texting.
  2. Spoofing is when a scammer falsifies their caller ID information.
  3. Vishing, or voice phishing, is when someone calls you and tries to trick you into giving them your sensitive data over the phone.

There are steps you can take to protect yourself from these malicious actions.

Avoid answering the phone when you don’t recognize the number. Or if you do answer and the call seems odd, hang up.

Watch for red flags like high-pressure sales tactics pushing you to make an immediate decision. The IRS, Medicare, Social Security, and other officials won’t call and pressure you to give them sensitive information.

Sign up for the Do Not Call list online or at 888-382-1222 to decrease your chances of getting spam phone calls.

In conclusion, text messages and phone scams are unfortunately all too common in today's digital age. However, by staying vigilant and following the tips outlined in this article, you can protect yourself from falling victim to these scams. Remember never to share personal information or click on suspicious links, and always verify the authenticity of any requests before taking action. Stay safe and stay aware!