How to Avoid Text Message Scams

How to Avoid Text Message Scams

According to the Identity Theft Resource Center (ITRC), fraudulent bank text messages are one of the most common types of scams. Scammers send text messages that look just like they come from a bank, stating that your accounts are locked or that your account will be charged unless you click or call.

The term “smishing” is a combination of the terms SMS (Short Message Service) and phishing. Phishing usually refers to scams sent by email, while smishing scams are sent by text message. What does a typical smishing scam look like? You receive a text message from a bank declaring that there is a problem with your account. Conveniently, the message contains a link or phone number to help you resolve the issue.

Scammers take action when you take the bait by calling, clicking, or responding. They may sell your information for future scams, install malware on your device, or lead you to a well-disguised website where you enter your information and unknowingly send it to the scammer. Other varieties of smishing could be a message stating that your credit card or bank account is about to be charged for an upcoming payment unless you reply. Or, a message that someone is attempting to access your account and you must speak with the security department to verify the transaction.

Some victims of smishing could unfortunately face real financial loss. There are steps you can take to detect smishing attempts and better protect yourself and your loved ones:

  • Do not reply, click, or call: NEVER click links, reply to text messages, or call phone numbers that you do not recognize. Some smishing messages give you the option to text the word “STOP” to get off the list, but don’t. Responding in ANY way lets the scammers know that the number is in service and that you are a potential target.
  • Validate Suspicious Message with the Actual Company: If you get a text message claiming to be from a bank, government agency, or retailer, call or email them directly to confirm the contents of the message. Find the organization’s official contact information from past statements or through an online search.
  • Report and Block Scammers and Spammers: If you frequently receive suspicious messages, you can block and report the number.
  • Validate Requests from Family and Friends: If friends or family request financial or personal information, make sure that you are actually taking with your loved one. Instead of sending information through text or email, provide the information verbally so there is no written record in the event of a lost or stolen device.
  • Never Install Apps from a Link: No matter who the message comes from, never install apps from a link provided in an unexpected text message. A brief internet search can help you ensure you are installing apps from an official source.
  • Keep Apps and Devices Updated: Make sure to update devices and apps to the latest version and consider installing anti-malware software on your devices for extra security.

If you believe you have received an illegal or fraudulent text or call, file a complaint with the Federal Communications Commission. The FCC also provides a consumer guide to help avoid unsolicited texts and calls.

MedCareComplete has services to protect you and your loved ones from potential scams. Contact us today to learn more.

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