We use our phones every day to communicate with others but have you ever had an unknown number text you something odd and out of the blue? This could be a text scam. Scammers are well aware of how often people are on their phones, whether it is to chat with friends, arrange plans, look at social media, purchase groceries, and more.
As alarming as it may sound, the average American checks their phones 96 times per day! That is one time every 10 minutes. Most of us have set up our phones to produce notifications if someone texts us, emails us, and likes our photo on Facebook or Instagram. Receiving things such as a text or something similar on a social media platform gives us a sense of happiness. That is one reason we check our phones so often - to obtain that good feeling. Studies have shown that when we are sad or lonely, we turn to our phones to fix the problem because it makes us feel like we are a part of something.
Scammers are well aware of this psychology and are using this to their advantage by sending out phishing scams.
What Are Text Scams and How Do They Work?
Scam artists will send out fake texts to unsuspecting people to steal their personal information such as email addresses, passwords, social security numbers, banking information, and more. Their overall goal is to gain access to your bank accounts and any other private or personal accounts. They will often cue into that happiness high that we get and send us a text that says we have won a prize, a gift card, and or coupon. These prizes can go as big as a free trip to Hawaii for you and your family or a gift card from Amazon. And yes, they do use well-known big names like Amazon to lure you in. They are making it appear as if Amazon was messaging you, making it all more believable. These scam texts usually contain a short paragraph congratulating you on your win and describe what you won.
Then at the end of the text message, there is typically a link. If you click on this link, it can sometimes redirect you to an unsecured website that will ask you for your credit card and passwords to individual accounts. The scammer will tell you that you must fill out all of this personal information to obtain your fantastic prize.
Another trick is scammers will offer you low interest or no interest credit cards and offer to pay your student loans if you provide them with your social security number. Many of us will think that these offers are too good to be true (they always are) and ignore them, but just in 2020 alone, hundreds of millions of dollars were lost due to text scams alone.
So why are so many people falling for these scams? Well, the answer is simple; scammers use human psychology against us.
One of their best tricks is informing someone that some suspicious activity has been occurring on their account. Most people freak out when this happens and hop on their phone to fix the issue right away. The scam artists will ask you to identify yourself by providing them with your passwords and banking information.
A few years ago, I received a text from 'Disney' saying that someone was trying to break into my account and that I needed to change my password immediately. At first, I got concerned and went to the site, but the 'Disney' website seemed blurred and unrealistic as I looked at it more closely. I then had to think for a second, have I ever made an account through Disney? And my answer was no, so I stayed away and just ignored the text. This action is a typical tactic a scammer will use. Their goal is to have you create a password on their fake account. Most people use the same password codes for all of their accounts, which is never a good idea. The scammer will try to use that one password, hoping it is the same for all your other accounts.
How To Reveal A Text Scam
Here are a couple of tricks to help you identify whether you are undergoing a text scam. Figuring out if you are experiencing a texting scam is not always easy; according to McAfee's study, a company that fights against cybercrimes found that 97% of people could not distinguish a real text from a fake one. One of the best ways to know if a scammer has texted you is by looking at how long the phone number is. Most marketing companies will use a six digits number or a ten-digit number to text you. Scammers, on the other hand, use eleven digit numbers to text. However, this is not always the case, but it is a good indicator.
If you receive a frantic text message claiming that your family member is hurt or in trouble, beware. The next line of the text might request that you send money immediately to take care of the medical bills. If you receive something like this, reach out to the family member who requires cash. You can also ask the scammer what hospital is requesting the money. If they give you that information, you can call the hospital directly to find out if this situation is real or not.
A scammer will often claim to be a credible company and text you saying you have received a refund from that given company. The scammer texting you will then ask for your routing number to your bank. If you receive a text similar to this, call the company the scammer claims to be and ask about the message you received.
Lastly, a common scam is where a scammer tells you they have deactivated your account due to criminal activity and need your password immediately so that the account does not get deletd.
How To Stop Scam Texts and How To Obtain Information On Your Scammer
If you ever receive a spam text, you can take action to stop it from happening to you. Some wireless providers can block spam calls and texts to their customers. Ctia.org is a website that can offer you information on which providers offer this service. If you own an iPhone and receive a spam text, underneath the text message, a blue button says 'Report as Junk.' This action will send the sender’s information over to Apple to handle.
However, if everything seems to add up, and you are inclined to move forward, make sure to verify the person is who they say they are. New, advanced people search technology makes this simple. Here’s how it works:
- Ask the person for their full name and location (City and State). If they refuse, it is a scam.
- If they provide this info, input the name and location into the gladiknow search engine and instantly get a confidential report on the person, including age, addresses and address history, emails, phones, relatives, employment history, education history, social media profiles, criminal records, sex offender records, liens, judgments, bankruptcies, civil records, traffic and infraction records, licenses, permits, and much more. The full picture!
- Then compare! Ask them about any of the information in the report in front of you, and you will immediately recognize if you are dealing with a real person or a fake.
For more information on people search engines and how they work, check out this link.
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