Scammers are constantly devising new ways to deceive unsuspecting individuals. One of the latest methods gaining popularity is text scams, where scammers use clever tactics to deceive and defraud people through text messages. With the increasing reliance on smartphones and messaging apps, text scams have become a prevalent threat to personal information and financial security. It’s essential to be aware of these scams and take proactive measures to protect yourself from falling into their trap.
Text scams, or SMS phishing or smishing, involve fraudulent messages sent to your mobile device to bait you into revealing sensitive information or making unauthorized transactions. These scams can be highly convincing, employing various techniques to deceive victims. To avoid getting baited by a text scam, here are some things to watch for, along with detailed examples of the latest text scams.
Urgency and Fear Scam Tactics
Scammers often create a sense of urgency and panic to pressure victims into taking immediate action. They might claim that your credit union or credit card account has been compromised, your package is about to be returned, or your social media account will be deleted. By instilling fear, scammers hope to catch you off guard and manipulate you into divulging personal information. Remember, legitimate organizations, including Benchmark Federal Credit Union and other credit unions, banks, and credit card companies will never request sensitive information via text.
Example: “URGENT: Your credit union account has been compromised. Reply with your account details immediately to prevent further unauthorized access.”
Prize and Lottery Scams
These scams play on our desire for quick wealth and prizes. Scammers send messages claiming you’ve won a substantial sum of money, a free vacation, or a luxurious gift. However, these prizes don’t exist, and providing your personal information will only lead to identity theft or financial loss. Legitimate lotteries and giveaways never ask for upfront payments or personal information via text.
Example: “Congratulations! You’ve won $1,000,000 in the Mega Jackpot Lottery. To claim your prize, send us your full name, address, and financial account details.”
Fake Delivery Notifications
With the rise of online shopping, scammers exploit the excitement of receiving packages by sending fake delivery notifications. These messages mimic legitimate courier services and request payment for various fees or redirect you to a malicious website. Be cautious and verify any delivery notifications by contacting the courier service using their official website or phone number.
Example: “Your package is on hold due to unpaid customs fees. Click this link to make the payment and avoid return.”
Sadly, scammers prey on people’s compassion by posing as charitable organizations. They request donations through text messages, often with heart-wrenching stories to evoke an emotional response. Research charities independently and donate directly through their official websites to ensure your contribution reaches the intended cause.
Example: “Help save lives! Text DONATE to contribute $10 to the XYZ Foundation and provide essential aid to earthquake victims.”
Protecting Yourself to Avoid Getting Baited by Text Scams
- Be skeptical. Avoid unsolicited text messages, especially if they ask for personal information or financial details. If it sounds too good to be true or makes you feel uneasy, it’s likely a scam.
- Verify the source. Independently research the sender and organization mentioned in the text. Use official websites or contact customer support directly through verified phone numbers or email addresses to confirm the legitimacy of the message.
- Don’t click on suspicious links. Scammers often include links in their messages that lead to malicious websites designed to steal your information. Only click on links if you are certain of their authenticity.
- Enable two-factor authentication (2FA). Protect your accounts by enabling 2FA whenever possible. This adds an extra layer of security, making it more difficult for scammers to gain unauthorized access.
What to Do If You Fall Victim to a Text Scam
- Report the scam. Notify your mobile carrier by forwarding the scam message to their designated scam reporting number. You can also report the incident to your local authorities and organizations such as the Federal Trade Commission (FTC).
- Contact your credit union, bank, and credit card providers. If you provided any financial information, immediately contact the companies to report the scam. They can help you secure your accounts and prevent unauthorized transactions.
- Monitor your accounts. Regularly check your financial statements and online accounts for suspicious activity. If you notice anything unusual, immediately report it to your credit union or credit card provider.
- Educate others. Help spread awareness about text scams among your friends, family, and community. By sharing information and experiences, you can help others avoid these scams.
Be on the Watch for Text Scams
Remember, staying vigilant and skeptical is critical to avoiding text scams. Be cautious of unsolicited messages, protect your personal information, and report any suspicious activity promptly. By taking these precautions, you can safeguard yourself against the ever-evolving tactics of scammers and protect your hard-earned money and personal data.
If you have been the victim of identity theft through a text scam or other scam, review Benchmark FCUs Identity Theft Procedures for the steps to follow to report and protect your accounts. Visit the Benchmark’s Security Center to learn more about the latest scams and be sure to check out our Cyber Security Checklist.