How to avoid getting bamboozled by a fraudster using fake or spam text messages to steal your personal information or swindle you out of funds?
Digital wallets or cash-sharing apps such as Venmo and PayPal have made sending and receiving funds easier than ever, providing a quick and simple way to gift or lend money, split a bill, or pay a friend, family member, or acquaintance. Fraudsters appreciate the expediency of mobile payments as well, finding ways to exploit the rapid communications they involve with the aim of catching victims off guard. The Better Business Bureau’s Scam Tracker program added 47,567 separate text scams to its scam tracking program in 2019. But there’s no need to forego these conveniences, as long as you stay alert to the tactic’s scammers and take basic steps to protect yourself. To safeguard your money and sensitive information, familiarize yourself with these common schemes, along with tips to avoid them.
Can You Get Scammed by a Text Message?
Yes. Text message or SMS phishing, also called “smishing”, is one of the popular ways used by scammers to steal personal or financial information.
How to Recognize Scam, Spam, or Fake Text Messages
They appear randomly.
Your bank and other legitimate businesses generally avoid using texts as their primary form of communication. If your “bank” texts you asking for some action on your part, check for an accompanying email and call the customer service number listed on the official website to confirm.
It makes little sense.
Trust your gut on this one. If the message is riddled with spelling and grammatical errors or seems out of line, then it’s likely a scam.
It contains an odd link.
Spam texts often contain a link. Sometimes that link appears to lead to a legitimate site, but on closer inspection, a critical word or letter is missing or misspelled. For example, “amazon.com” could become something like “amzon.com.” Strings of numbers and symbols in a link can also be a bad sign.
It leads to mean calls.
If you reply to a spam text or open a link, scammers may follow up by calling you. If you ever get a call from a “customer service representative” who makes you feel embarrassed or stupid, just hang up. Another red flag is if a customer service representative asks to remotely control your computer.
Fake or Spam Text Message Examples
The following are just some spam text message examples:
- A promise of free gift cards or prizes
- A promise of free money
- Services that are too good to be true, such as letting you buy Facebook reviews
- Coupons that are too good to be true
- An offer for a credit card with no or low-interest rate
- A promise to help pay off loans
- A message about your account or payment information (such as a suspicious activity)
- Asking for your online banking or direct deposit information
- A message about a fake transaction
The common theme among the above scams is that the sender wants you to give them money or personal information unwittingly. Remember that your bank will never ask for sensitive information over text.
Another category of spam texts gets malware or other harmful programs installed on your phone. These typically require you to click a link or download an attachment for the malware to infect your device. With all the possibilities, it’s crucial to know how to identify a fake message.
FedEx Text Scam
FedEx does not request, via unsolicited mail, text, or email, payment or personal information in return for goods in transit or in FedEx custody. If you receive any similar communications, do not reply or cooperate with the sender. If your interaction with the website resulted in financial loss, you should contact your bank immediately. Consider contacting the Internet Crime Complaint Center (IC3) or your state Attorney General’s office.
Common mail, text, or online scams of FedEx include:
Work at home
While job openings are on the rise, fraudsters are creating counterfeit jobs to entice new victims. Fraudsters create job ads claiming no skills or experience are required. Typically, the job offers high to pay for little or no work. The company promises that a business opportunity is surefire and will pay off quickly and easily. You’re required to pay upfront for background checks, training, certifications, directories, or materials. Be wary of any employment opportunity where you are asked to pay upfront costs or expenses and verify the legitimacy of the organization and job offer.
Online marketplace fraud
Online shopping has sky-rocketed during the pandemic. Fraudsters are listing merchandise (typically on sites that offer third-party selling) at unusually high or low pricing. Customers are provided a tracking number after purchase, but the products will never be delivered, as the fraudsters have used stolen, valid tracking data to legitimize a fake transaction and take the victim’s money. Be careful of purchasing too-good-to-be-true items online.
Everyone knows grandparents are kind-hearted people. Fraudsters know this best. Fraudsters sometimes present themselves as a relative—usually a child or grandchild – claiming to be in immediate financial need. Their end goal is to manipulate them out of their hard-earned money. Please be aware and touch base with family members to verify a family crisis first, and never ship cash.
Government impersonation scam
Fraudsters pose as government employees and threaten to arrest or prosecute victims unless they agree to provide funds or other forms of payments. Do not give anyone your personal information without verification of legitimacy and never ship cash.
Fraudsters claim to work for legitimate charitable organizations to gain victims’ trust. They may even claim their targets have won a foreign lottery or sweepstakes, which they can collect for a “fee”. Carefully inspect the background of any charitable organization before committing to donations or paying any fees.
Payroll (and other checks) processing
Employees believe they are working for a legitimate company; however, fraudsters usually initiate the contact for employment. The fraudster will supply or ask that you purchase check production software and attain a FedEx (or competitor) account number. Details such as bank account info, digital signatures, names/addresses, and depositing amounts will be supplied to you. Checks are processed to individuals selling items. Item is sold and a check is written for a value greater than the item value with excess funds being requested to be returned. The check is cashed and the sold item is sent with excess funds. Checks are later deemed fraudulent by the bank.
Depositing checks and sending reimbursements via wire or gift cards
In this scheme fraudsters send out checks or money orders, often from an online advertisement or job offer, utilizing a delivery service like FedEx to appear legitimate. You are then instructed to deposit the check and return a portion of the funds using a wire transfer service or through gift cards. You may even be given the opportunity to keep some of the cash as an enticement. Banks later discover that the check is fraudulent and the depositor is held responsible.
Beware of receiving/money and cashing money orders when signing up to be a mystery shopper. Fraudsters sometimes utilize FedEx to send money orders to “other secret shoppers.” Authentic mystery shopping companies only require you to shop at stores and send feedback about your shopping experience directly to them or through a selected third-party service.
PayPal Text Scam
It’s important to know how to identify a scam text from a genuine PayPal text. Below are some common text messages circulating that impersonate PayPal. Although these scam text messages all differ slightly, they usually have the same messaging that your account is limited or will be disabled unless you verify or update your account.
PayPal Scam Text Sample#1
“Your PayPal account will be disabled today if you fail to update, visit: paypa.com”
Don’t click the link in the text message! Scammers will use “PayPal” in their links to trick you into thinking it’s legitimate. However, the actual PayPal website is PayPal.com.
PayPal Scam Text Sample#2
“PayPal: Your account is currently under review. Complete the following security form to avoid limitations: https://limited-verify.com/PayPal”
PayPal text scams will use threats or fear to scare you into clicking the link. They will usually say your PayPal account will be limited, suspended, or disabled. They may also notify you of a possible fraudulent transaction.
PayPal Scam Text Sample#3
“PayPal: We’ve permanently limited your account, please click the link below to verify https://signin-pyplsecurednotification.com/r/verifynow
If you click on the link, you’ll be taken to a website that looks like the real PayPal site. Don’t fall for it. If you look at the URL of the site, it’s clearly not the genuine PayPal site at PayPal.com.
Keep in mind that PayPal Notifies You of Account Limitations by Email
Your PayPal account may genuinely be limited for one reason or another. However, PayPal will only notify you via email or within your account notifications when you log in. PayPal does not send texts informing you of account limitations or suspensions.
Other common PayPal scams include:
- Phishing emails. You may, from time to time, receive a phishing email that looks like it’s from PayPal, but it’s not. Similar to PayPal scam texts, there are tell-tale signs of a fake email that you should look out for.
- Fake charities. Scammers will set up fake charities and ask for payment via PayPal. Before donating to any charity, be sure to research the organization and ensure it’s legitimate.
- Shipping scams. Whether you’re a buyer or seller using PayPal to complete your transaction, it’s possible to be scammed. Sometimes, the seller fails to send you the item, and sometimes, it involves phishing emails that look like shipping confirmations.
- Overpayment scams. Overpayment scams involve someone overpaying you and then asking you to refund the difference. Usually, they will send a fake PayPal email to make you think you received the initial payment when you haven’t.
Amazon Access Attempt Text
Many of us have gotten the email (or text, or call) and it looks like it’s from Amazon, but something seems off. You might have gotten a text saying you’ve won a raffle, or that there is some suspicious activity on your Amazon account. The truth is, it’s likely the only suspicious activity there is the message itself because it’s a scam. And if you feel like you have been getting a lot more of these spammy calls and texts, you’re not alone.
The Federal Trade Commission says that last year, Amazon was the most frequently impersonated business. About one in three people who reported a business impersonator to the FTC between June 2020 and June 2021 said the person on the other line claimed to be from Amazon.
Here’s how you can get better at identifying and preventing such Amazon scams and what you can do if you do become one victim.
How to identify Amazon scam calls and messages?
The first step is to know how to identify these scam messages, also known as phishing attacks.
An example of a phishing attempt could be an email (like the one below), asking you to immediately change your password. There are several ways to tell that this email is fake. First, the sender’s email address ends in “.info” while real Amazon emails always end in “@amazon.com”.
Next, Amazon will NEVER ask for your login credentials or other personal information like in an email. Messages that have a sense of urgency and are asking you to immediately take action are red flags, too. Also, keep an eye out for any spelling or grammatical error in the message.
Some Amazon phishing attempts may also ask you to pay by gift card or send pictures of gift cards. According to the FTC, if someone asks you to give them the numbers on the back of a gift card, it’s a scam.
WalletHub Text Messages
The “Oops, I accidentally sent you money” scam
With this popular grift, you’ll get a message in Venmo (or another digital wallet) from someone claiming that they mistakenly sent you money intended for another person. The person pleads with you to return the funds, and you notice a credit has appeared in your cash app for an amount, perhaps several hundred dollars, a thousand, or more.
If you’re a decent and law-abiding person, your first instinct will likely be to return the money. After all, it seems easy enough to mistype a username in the app. However, there’s a good chance that the person who sent you the money has used stolen credit card details to deliver the funds. In this scenario, once the scammer has transferred the money to you, they will remove the stolen card information from the fake Venmo profile they’re using, and link their own card details or bank account information to it instead.
Once you transfer the money back to them, the scammer immediately withdraws the funds. In the meantime, the person whose credit card details were stolen contacts their provider. The bank will block the card and reverse charges – removing the money from your account. And unfortunately, as the Better Business Bureau explains, many payment apps will not cover the cost of this kind of fraud, which means you may not have recourse to get your money back.
How to handle an “accidental” money transfer
If you get a message from someone who says that they sent you money accidentally, your best bet is to open a support ticket with Venmo, or whatever cash app you’re using. Instead of engaging with the sender, Fraud Prevention Unit recommends letting the digital wallet vendor know that you received funds that you did not request, and that you’re concerned about fraud. After that, let the vendor handle the situation.
An urgent message suggesting that your account has been hacked is about to be suspended or charged.
Phishing scams in which fraudsters attempt to deceive you into divulging confidential personal information by posing as a legitimate enterprise have become quite commonplace over a text message. The criminal may employ one of a variety of tactics to spur you into immediate action before you realize what’s going on. Often, the goal is to get you to click on a link to a fraudulent webpage where you will be prompted to provide your account credentials, credit card information, or other personal details. In some cases, you may get a message in your app that your account is about to be suspended or charged for something you didn’t buy.
The bottom line for dealing with dubious texts marked for immediate attention
Resist the urge to open a suspicious text and click on any link it may contain. Also, keep in mind that cash-app vendors generally won’t ask you to enter your password unless you are actually at their log-in page. Furthermore, don’t get rattled by a text claiming that you sent money to someone you don’t know. You can check your account for fraudulent transactions quickly enough by opening your app. If nothing appears off, delete the suspicious message from your phone. If you still have concerns that your account may have been compromised, get in touch with the app provider. But avoid searching online for a phone number to customer service, because fraudsters may use spoofed websites to try to misdirect you. Instead, go directly to the company’s website, making sure that you have spelled the company name correctly, and that the site is trustworthy. Also, be aware that some peer-to-peer payment systems may not provide phone support.
The unexpected money request from a friend
Scam artists have been known to impersonate people in a user’s network of family and friends, using a fake profile to request a payment. In some cases, the fraudster is banking on a scenario in which you actually won’t bother checking with the person to find out why they are asking for the money. After all, this can be an uncomfortable topic to bring up, with plenty of room for confusion and awkward exchanges. But in some cases, the request will come with an explanation. For instance, you could get a message that ostensibly comes from a friend who has lost their wallet and needs emergency cash.
Wal Shipment Tracking Text
Online shopping fraud
Online shopping fraud is the most popular online fraud where the shopping scammers trick the shoppers into giving their money and precious data by attracting shoppers with attractive deals of unbelievable prices.
Bitcoin is the worst and biggest scam of all time. The bitcoin scammer takes advantage of users by giving them free bitcoin giveaways. With the increasing popularity of bitcoin, fraudsters are taking advantage of this popularity by scamming users in the name of bitcoin.
The romance fraudster creates a false profile to gain the trust of people. If you are in search of finding Mrs. / Mr. Perfect for you on a dating site then, research carefully. In search of the right person you might fall victim to fraudsters so, please beware of romance fraud.
Gaming is an entertaining source for people of all ages, for their entertainment, they look up gaming websites or applications so, the gaming fraudsters are taking advantage of this entertaining source by introducing fraud gaming applications and websites.
Earn money fraud
Earn money fraud is the biggest fraud. Earn money fraudsters will notify you that you will earn money quickly and easily.
The most common trending online scam is phishing. From your bank account, if you receive an email that asks you to log in account and update details or they provide a link that will redirect you to a relevant page, which email is not from your bank.
Wells Fargo Bank Text Scams
Wells Fargo is one of the largest banks in the U.S., so it must be surprising to find out that some serious scams are going on under their name. Wells Fargo spam text messages have become one of the main weapons of identity thieves and scammers. Learn how to protect yourself in this fast-paced new age of online bank robbers and text spammers. Wells Fargo spam text message is a smishing scam meant to steal your private information, such as your Social Security or credit card number.
Smishing texts come out of the blue in order to fool you into revealing your sensitive information and exposing yourself to scammers.
There are a few ways to know if the message you’ve received is a smishing scam from someone posing as Wells Fargo. Watch out for:
- Unusual messages with an urgent tone
- Content with a lot of typos and grammar mistakes
- Unknown senders
- Peculiar requests
Say My Name Scam Uber
This fraud costs drivers time and money. It involves impersonation and deception. Uber drivers have limited information about the passengers they transport. While the rider can view many of the driver’s details, all the driver has about passengers is their name.
When someone requests a ride, the driver rushes to their location to pick them up. You may get to the location and it takes a few minutes before the customer shows up. In those minutes, someone walks up to you and pretends to be the customer with the goal of getting a free ride.
They ask you the name of the customer you’re waiting for. If you’re not aware of the “Say my name” scam, you check the app and tell him the name—Dave, maybe. He responds, “yes, that’s me.” You proceed to confirm the destination, but the passenger tells you to stop at some place along the way so they can get something from a friend waiting there. You get to that spot and the passenger gets out but never comes back. Meanwhile, the genuine customer requests another taxi. You lose.
Costco Text Scam
Costco Wholesale Corporation (also known as Costco Wholesale Corporation) is an MNC based in America that has its operations spread across several countries. It is a member-only retail unit that provides world-class products for members.
However, due to its popularity, it has become a platform for scams such as the Costco Text Scam. It will be further described in the following paragraphs. You can find out more by scrolling down.
This scam is also known as the Costco raffle scam. It involves users receiving a Costco receipt text message on their mobile. The scam lures users by offering an iPad or iPhone for a prize. This prize can be won after participants in a drawing organized by the company. This scam is text-based and has been around for more than a year.
As the Federal Trade Commision notes, legitimate companies don’t usually reach out to you via text to tell you you’ve received money, especially if you haven’t signed up for SMS messaging. You should be skeptical of any text messages you receive that you haven’t specifically asked for.
This latest scam targeted text messaging, but earlier scams have used different methods. One that made the rounds in 2019 was a $75 coupon that asked people to enter their personal information. Costco had to debunk it on their own page to make sure that people weren’t getting phished.
Costco has two qualities that should make you skeptical of any message that goes around: first, it has its own page on its website that it uses for deals. Second, all coupons for Costco have to come from Costco itself. They don’t ever come from third parties.
Walmart Text Scam
One of the most common Walmart spam text messages examples is where the scammer will send a spam text claiming that you’ve won a free Walmart gift card. They’ll ask you to go to a link and enter your personal information to claim your prize.
If you don’t remember entering the contest, it’s probably a scam. Definitely don’t enter any personal information on websites like these. If you think the offer might be legitimate, try to find contact information for the company that is running the contest. If you can’t find any information, then it’s definitely a scam.
Another common Walmart text scam is one where scammers invite you to take a survey about your experience at Walmart. You have to follow a link to a survey and input personal information in order to do so. Do not enter personal or account information on a site like this.
Lastly, if you receive a text message with an online order confirmation about an order that you did not place through Walmart.com, this could be another text scam. Watch out for scammers who claim they just need some additional personal information or payment to deliver your order. A real order confirmation should provide all the details about the order in the body of the message without requiring you to click any links.
Thank-You-for-Your-Purchase Text Scam
A common scam starts with an email, stating you made a purchase when you truly didn’t. $500 for “Microsoft Windows Defender Firewall Online”? Many people will miss that that doesn’t make much sense, nor does the from: address. The panic from an unwanted $500 credit card charge often causes people to jump for the phone, but please don’t call or respond to this message! Remain calm and recognize this for the ploy that it is.
The bad guys want you to pick up the phone and dial that shady number. They want you to ask for a refund because once you ask for anything, they’ll try to manipulate and feed you more false info. Even if a caller wises up and refuses to fork over a credit card number, they’ll still have his phone number, and that leads to more scam calls down the road.
It’s best to disregard this email if you get it. Just delete it. If you need further peace of mind, simply call your credit card company and talk to them about it. Review your statements and you’ll see that this charge never happened.
How to Replay to Scammer Text Messages?
The FTC offers clear guidance on what you should reply to scam text messages. They highlight the fact that no company will ask you for account information via text.
If you do think that the request for information is legitimate, don’t respond via text. Instead, call the company in question using the phone number you have for them. This way, you will know you are contacting a legitimate company.
First, never open the link
The FCT highlights that you should never click a link in an unexpected text message. You should follow this strategy even if you think you know the sender but aren’t positive.
Remember that clicking a link may download malware on your phone. That malware will gather information from your phone. It may also slow down your phone or even have your phone perform actions you didn’t intend it to.
If the link doesn’t install malware, it will likely take you to a questionable website. That website could be a phishing attempt to gain personal information, such as credit card information.
Do research before replying with STOP
When you get a spam text, your first instinct may be to reply “STOP” in hopes that doing so unsubscribes you. However, you should always check the number and sender before doing so. That is because, in many cases, the scammers just want a response of any type. If you send them “STOP”, it won’t do anything except tell them that your line is active and it is a genuine phone number.
They may use that knowledge to their advantage to send you more spam text messages. They may also sell that information to others, meaning you may soon find yourself with even more spam messages.
Report a bad message to your carrier
Most carriers will let you report fake messages to them. You may even be able to block messages from that sender. For almost all carriers, you can report the spam by forwarding the message to 7726 (SPAM).
Other places to report a fake message
You should also take a few seconds to label the fake text as spam. This is an option right in your native messaging app for many phones. It’s also smart to report the message to the Federal Trade Commission. You can do so by forwarding it to SPAM (7726) or reporting it via the FTC’s designated website for doing so.
How to Avoid Receiving Spam, Scam, or Fake Text Messages?
Spam texts are annoying and dangerous. Spam texts often install malicious software on your smartphone and try to access your personal information. According to the Federal Trade Commission, sending unsolicited, commercial text messages to a wireless device is prohibited unless the sender has your permission.
But don’t worry, you can stop unwanted text messages from appearing on your cell phone. Are you ready to get rid of scam text messages.? Here are seven easy steps to stop receiving spam SMS.
Be Careful While Giving Out Phone Numbers
It is one of the crucial steps in preventing unwanted messages or spam text messages. To avoid scammers from connecting you, you need to be cautious when giving your phone number to companies or other persons.
We provide our personal information for various reasons, like when entering contests, creating online accounts, completing forms, and making transactions. Hence, it is essential to think twice before giving your private data to someone else.
You need to keep your private information to yourself. It is crucial to understand that legal companies don’t ask for sensitive personal information such as account passwords, government identity numbers, and phone numbers.
So it’s crucial to be aware of these scammers. Don’t give out your phone number to strangers. Treat them as if it is one of the most precious assets you own.
Don’t Click Any of The Links You Receive
If you click on any strange links you receive on your mobile phone, you are introduced to more spam. Strange links can direct you to phishing scams that steal your sensitive personal information. It also infects your mobile device with malware that takes up your phone’s memory and reduces the performance of your mobile phone.
Clicking on malicious links also leads to unnecessary increases in your phone bill. They charge you for receiving a text message or whether you requested it. So, you have to be careful while clicking on any link you receive; double-check before clicking on any link.
Don’t Respond To Spam Messages
Don’t text them back if you receive any messages from an unknown sender or a phone number. If you directly text those spam text messages, the scammers know that your phone number is real. Spam text messages are sent so that you are tempted to reply to those spam texts with harsh messages urging them to stop.
But this is one of the common tricks used by scammers to confirm that your phone number is in use. They can even sell your phone numbers to other spammers. So, you should not respond to spam texts and take the necessary steps to block them.
Block The Spam Numbers
Blocking spam numbers is one of the easiest yet most effective methods to stop receiving spam texts. You can easily cut off the sender’s line of communication. The scammers can message you again using different phone numbers, but it’s better to block them as you don’t have to receive the spam text from the same sender.
Report the Spam Number and Texts
You can also report text messages to your carrier. No matter what phone you have, just forward the text message to SPAM (7726).
Use the Message Filtering Options on Your Phone
Filtering spam messages reduces the volume of spam texts on your mobile phone. It filters messages from unknown or non-saved numbers. They are not the best option but are useful for keeping your text messaging app less congested.
Install Text Blocking Apps
The best way to add an extra layer of protection to your device from spam texts is to use a text-blocking app like RealCall. It is capable of smartly blocking spam calls and text messages behind your smartphone based on a database. Furthermore, users are also allowed to customize blocking items based on preferences and demands.
How to Block Spam Texts on Your phone
Spam text blocking works perfectly on both iPhone and Android devices. Here are ways to block spam numbers on both iPhone and Android devices:
How to Block Spam Texts on Android Devices
Follow these simple steps to stop spam texts on an Android device.
- Step 1. Open the messaging app and select the text you want to block.
- Step 2. At the top corner, select the three-dot menu.
- Step 3. Select “Details” from the drop-down menu.
- Step 4. Select “Block Contact” from the drop-down menu.
How To Block Spam Text On iPhone
- Step 1. Open the messaging app and select the text you want to block.
- Step 2. Select the arrow next to the phone number located at the top of the screen.
- Step 3. Select the “Info” icon.
- Step 4. At the bottom of the page, choose the red-highlighted “Block this Caller” option.
How to Report the Spam Number and Texts
You can send any spam text messages to 7726 that notifies your carrier about the spam texts. They’ll examine if the SMS is fake or illegal, and the carrier has the option to block those numbers.
How To Report Spam Text Messages on iPhone
- Step 1. Copy the phone number of the sender.
- Step 2. Press and hold the text message for a long time.
- Step 3. Select the “More” option.
- Step 4. In the lower right corner, tap the “Arrow” icon.
- Step 5. In the To: field, type 7726.
- Step 6. Your carrier will respond with a request for you to provide the sender’s phone number.
- Step 7. Now paste the number you copied before and submit it. The carrier will respond to it.
How To Report Spam Text Messages on Android
- Step 1. Open the messages.
- Step 2. On the left, select the “Contact” icon.
- Step 3. In the lower right corner, select “Report”.
- Step 4. Select Okay after selecting “General Spam”.
How to Block Spam Texts with the Message Filtering Options on Your Phone
Filtering spam messages reduces the volume of spam texts on your mobile phone. It filters messages from unknown or non-saved numbers. They are not the best option but are useful for keeping your text messaging app less congested.
How to Filter Text Messages on Android
- Step 1. Open the messaging app.
- Step 2. Click the three dots symbol in the upper right-hand corner of the screen.
- Step 3. Select “Settings” then “Spam Protection”.
- Step 4. Select the “Enable Spam Protection” option at the bottom of the page.
- Step 5. Swipe the button to the right to turn it on.
If you can’t find the Spam Protection option on your mobile phone, your phone doesn’t support this feature.
How to Filter Text Messages on iPhone
- Step 1. Select “Messages” from the Settings.
- Step 2. Scroll down to the “Filter Unknown Senders” section.
- Step 3. Swipe the button to the right to turn it on. All messages from numbers that aren’t saved in your contact list will be directed to the “Unknown Senders” page under “Filters”.