(WHNT) – Robocalls are pretty boring, but robottexts? According to the Federal Communications Commission, scammers are adding another tool to their arsenal to annoy Americans.
The FCC tracks complaints as opposed to actual call volume, but the agency’s own statistics show that complaints about spam text messages have risen steadily in recent years. Around 5,700 complaints were filed in 2019, 14,000 in 2020, 15,300 in 2021 and 8,500 until June 30, 2022.
What to look for
These scams can take many forms, according to the FCC:
- Claims for unpaid invoices
- Complaints about a problem with a parcel delivery
- Claims of a problem with a bank account
- Claims of an outstanding warrant or other issue with law enforcement
In all of these cases, the FCC said these texts can use fear and anxiety, along with confusing or incomplete information, to trick the recipient into engaging with the scammer.
Fraudulent texts, also known as “smishing”, often include some or all of the following:
- Comes from an unknown number and/or a number with 10 or more digits
- Contains misleading/incomplete information
- Words are misspelled to avoid blocking/filtering tools
- Contains mysterious links
- Is a sales pitch
How to stay safe
- Do not respond to suspicious texts (even texting STOP)
- Do not click on any links
- Do not provide any information either by replying or via a website in the suspicious message
- File a complaint with the FCC (online or by calling 888-225-5322)
- Forward unwanted texts to SPAM (7726)
- Delete suspicious texts
- Keep your smart devices (and security apps, if applicable) up to date
- Consider installing anti-malware software (if available)
- Carefully review company policies regarding disabling text alerts and selling/sharing consumer information
- Review text blocking tools offered on specific mobile phones (such as Apple’s built-in blocking on newer versions of iOS/iPadOS or the phone app on Android) and by third parties
The best rule of thumb – if that text message is suspicious, hang up and call the company, organization, or law enforcement agency that the message claims to be. Valid phone numbers can be found on an invoice, on the organisation’s/company’s/agency’s official website or on official social media pages.
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