Con artists are using your phone number and a deceptive text message to steal your information, money and identity.
It’s called SMS phishing, or smishing. This text message scam usually looks like it came from your bank and asks you to update your information or provide personal details. It prompts you to click on a link.
Innocently clicking on this malicious link or responding with your information are the worst things you can do.
Once you click or respond, it’s like declaring, “Yes, I will fall for your scam!”
Text message scams are all too common. Protect yourself by remembering the following:
Do NOT click
The best way to avoid text message scams is to be adamant about never clicking on any link in any text you weren’t expecting to receive.
If you think you need to confirm a question with your bank or a business, go directly to the official website and enter your account info.
Don’t be misled
The IRS, your bank and other legitimate institutions never ask for personal or financial information over a text message. That includes usernames, passwords, PINs or credit or debit card numbers.
Some text message scams will instruct you to reply with “STOP” or “NO” if you want to stop receiving them.
But this is just a ploy, and responding in any way shows the scammers that they’re dealing with a real phone number (yours) and will continue scamming you. Best to delete the message completely.
Gauge your anxiety levels
Scammers feed off fear. They’re always devising new schemes and refining what works and what doesn’t.
If a text message gets you anxious about;
Someone stealing your money
Being accused of a crime you didn’t commit
Someone harming your or your family
An embarrassing secret that may or may not be true
Then it’s very likely a scammer is playing into your fears. And when we as humans get scared, we throw logic and reason out the window. In other words; we click on a malicious link or respond with details about our bank account.
Before a text message opens a cage of butterflies in your stomach, ask yourself if you might be biting at a lure.
Be cautious about giving your number out
It might be tempting to give your phone number in exchange for a free trial of something you see online, but hold back on that whim.
Once you give your phone number out to the wrong source, it can be bought, sold and traded – making you an easy target for scams.
Don’t call the number listed
Scammers use a lot of shady practices to conceal their identity.
Calling the number back that’s listed in the text message is just a bad idea. It confirms to the scammer that they’re dealing with a real, gullible person who they can continue to scam.
Be a detective
Be cautious about suspicious text messages. They look innocent, but they’re something you want to adamantly avoid.