Scammers pretending to be big companies trick consumers with deals too good to be true.

In today’s digital age, communication has become quicker and more convenient than ever before. However, this convenience also opens the door for cunning scammers to exploit unsuspecting individuals through text scams. These deceptive tactics have evolved, leaving countless people vulnerable to financial losses, identity theft, and emotional distress.

“Con artists often offer too-good-to-be true discounts in the hope that price-conscious consumers will jump on these ‘deals’ without doing their research,” says the BBB.

If you click on the link to that too-good-to-be-true offer, you may be prompted to log into a “look-alike” website that asks for your login ID and password. Once you type in those credentials, however, the scam goes into full swing. Scammers can use your login information to access your account and even make fraudulent purchases using your saved credit card or bank account payment methods.

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Types of Text Scams: How to Stay One Step Ahead of Digital Deception

There are several types of text scams that individuals should be aware of. Here are some common ones:

Phishing Scams:

Phishing scams involve sending fraudulent text messages that mimic legitimate organizations, such as banks, government agencies, or popular online services. These messages often ask recipients to provide personal information, such as passwords, social security numbers, or credit card details, by clicking on a link or replying to the text.

Smishing (SMS Phishing):

Smishing is a type of phishing that specifically occurs through SMS (text) messages. Scammers may send messages pretending to be from a reputable source, urging recipients to take immediate action, such as confirming account details or making a payment. The aim is to trick individuals into sharing sensitive information or visiting malicious websites.

Fake Prize or Lottery Scams:

In these scams, individuals receive text messages claiming they have won a prize or a lottery. The messages often request payment of a processing fee or personal information to claim the prize. In reality, there is no prize, and the scammers aim to obtain money or personal details from unsuspecting victims.

Charity Scams:

Scammers exploit people’s generosity by sending text messages soliciting donations for fake charities or disaster relief efforts. These messages often tug at the heartstrings, urging recipients to make immediate contributions. However, the funds end up in the hands of the scammers, and the supposed charitable cause does not exist.

Delivery or Package Scams:

Individuals may receive text messages informing them about a package or delivery that requires additional payment or verification. These messages can mimic legitimate shipping companies or online marketplaces. By enticing recipients to provide personal information or make payments, scammers attempt to steal financial information or carry out identity theft.

Subscription Scams:

Subscription scams involve sending text messages claiming that the recipient has signed up for a paid subscription service and must pay a recurring fee. These messages often include a link or instructions to cancel the subscription, leading individuals to fraudulent websites where their payment details can be compromised.

Financial Scams:

Scammers may send text messages posing as a financial institution, alerting recipients about suspicious account activity or urging them to update their banking information. The goal is to trick individuals into divulging sensitive financial details, which can lead to unauthorized transactions or identity theft.

It’s important to note that scammers constantly evolve their tactics, so new types of text scams may emerge over time. Remaining vigilant, being skeptical of unsolicited messages, and adopting safe online practices can help individuals protect themselves from falling victim to these scams.

Warning Signs and Red Flags: How to Spot a Text Scam

Be wary of texts from unknown numbers

When you receive a text from an unfamiliar number, proceed with caution. Many companies communicate with their customers via text messages offering discounts, special promotions, news and updates. However, consumers must first opt in to receive such messages. “If you haven’t given a company permission to text you, it’s probably a scam,” warns the BBB.

Find out: 7 Signs Your Online Soulmate is Out to Scam You 

Never click on links from strangers

Scammers like to send texts with shortened links in the body of the text message so you aren’t able to see where the link will lead. If you click on that link, you may be directed to a dangerous website. The link could also download malware, malicious software that criminals can use to access your personal financial data and accounts, medical records, personal emails, passwords and other sensitive information that can be used for identity theft purposes.

Find out: Watch Out for These 5 Red Flags of a Moving Scam

Contact the company offering the “deal”

Some lucrative offers may be almost impossible to ignore. If that’s the case, don’t click on the link to find out more. Instead, go to the official website of the company purportedly offering a promotion or discount. Then call that company’s customer service number to ask a representative if the offer is legitimate. If the offer is legit, sign up with the customer service agent or find out how to sign up for the promotion on the company’s website.

Find out: 7 Red Flags a Paid Survey May Be a Scam 

No company is off-limits

The latest scam reports to the BBB mention Hulu, Netflix and Verizon. However, scammers may impersonate other companies, too. “If one name stops being effective, they’ll quickly switch to another company,” says the BBB.

Taking Action: Steps to Protect Yourself After Falling Victim to a Text Scam

If you find yourself falling victim to a text scam, it’s essential to act swiftly to minimize the potential damage. Here are the steps you can take if you’ve been targeted by a text scam:

  1. Cease Communication: Immediately stop engaging with the scammer. Refrain from responding to any further messages or providing them with any additional information. By cutting off communication, you reduce the risk of further harm.
  2. Take Screenshots: Capture screenshots or save copies of the fraudulent messages as evidence. These can be useful when reporting the scam to the appropriate authorities or your financial institution.
  3. Inform Your Bank or Financial Institution: If you shared any financial information, such as credit card details or banking credentials, contact your bank or financial institution right away. Explain the situation and ask them to monitor your accounts for any unauthorized activity. They can guide you on further steps, such as freezing your accounts or issuing new cards.
  4. Change Passwords and Secure Accounts: Update the passwords of your email, social media, online banking, and any other accounts that may have been compromised. Enable two-factor authentication whenever possible to add an extra layer of security.
  5. Report the Scam: Report the incident to the appropriate authorities, such as your local law enforcement agency or the national consumer protection agency. Provide them with all the relevant information, including the screenshots, details of the scam, and any other supporting evidence.
  6. Alert the Relevant Organizations: If the scam involved impersonating a legitimate organization, such as a bank or an online service provider, inform the real organization about the fraudulent activity. They can take steps to warn other customers and potentially assist with investigations.
  7. Educate Others: Share your experience with family, friends, and colleagues to raise awareness about text scams. By educating others, you can help prevent them from falling victim to similar scams.

Remember, it’s crucial to remain vigilant and monitor your accounts regularly for any suspicious activity even after taking these steps. Prevention is key, so stay informed about common scams, maintain strong security practices, and be cautious when sharing personal information or responding to unsolicited messages.

Get professional help to clean up fraud on your credit report do to identity theft.

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About the Author

Deb Hipp

Deb Hipp

Deb Hipp is a full-time freelance writer based in Kansas City, Mo. Deb went from being unable to get approved for a credit card or loan 20 years ago to having excellent credit today and becoming a homeowner. Deb learned her lessons about money the hard way. Now she wants to share them to help you pay down debt, fix your credit and quit being broke all the time. Deb's personal finance and credit articles have been published at Credit Karma and The Huffington Post.

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