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Friday, 22 October 2021 17:18

How to Deal with Robotext Scams

Robotexts complaints were up 146% last year over the year before, according to the FTC1.

Chances are you have received a text message from an unknown sender – and most likely the message was from a scammer trying to trick you into giving them your sensitive information such as passwords, account numbers, or Social Security numbers. With that information, scammers could gain access to your personal accounts, or they could sell your information to other scammers.

In this article, find out how to identify robotexts, which are also referred to as spam texts and SMS phishing. Learn what you can do about these unwanted text messages and how to report them.

 

How to Identify Robotext Messages

Scammers use a variety of ever-changing schemes, including:

Scammers also send alarming messages claiming they have information about an account or a pending transaction, such as: 

Scammers asking you to claim a gift or pursue an offer and will provide a link to learn more about the issue. Links typically lead to spoofed websites that look authentic but are not. Other spam messages may install harmful malware on your phone that steals your personal information without you realizing it. Do not click on those links; but if you do, do not provide your information.

 

Examples of Robotext Scams and SMS Phishing:

There are many types of robotexts. The following scam is a common one:

Scammers send a robotext message with a fake shipment tracking code and a link to update your delivery preferences. In this case, the message claims it’s from FedEx, and the link leads to a customer satisfaction survey at a bogus Amazon website where you may "win" a free prize when a credit card number to pay for shipping is provided. Scammers also use the names of other well-known shipping companies as well as the U.S. Postal Service.

Fedex tracking text scam image from FTC consumer website

 

images phishing text scams redacted

REGISTRY OF MOTOR VEHICLES ROBOTEXT SCAM 

The Registry Motor Vehicles (RMV) does not send text messages to customers to request personal information. One of the examples above illustrates text phishing, or SMS phishing, that is currently occurring in Massachusetts and other states. Texts from the “DMV” should be deleted immediately.

SMS PHISHING ROBOTEXTS 

SMS phishing, or smishing, is another type of robotext that utilizes text and mobile messaging services such as WhatsApp and iMessage to defraud victims by posing as a trusted institution such as a bank or credit card company. Recipients of these malicious messages are urged to ignore and delete the messages.

Learn how to recognize and protect yourself from SMS-phishing at Mass.gov.

The Better Business Bureau has further information about how bank SMS phishing works and what to do:

  • Ignore instructions to text "STOP" or "NO" to prevent future texts. This is a common ploy by scammers to confirm they have a real, active phone number that can be used for other scams.
  • If you think your text message is legitimate, make sure it's directed to a web address like "yourbank.com", not "yourbank.otherwebsite.com."
  • Call the bank or check out their website. If they have been targeted by a scam, they may have further information about it. This often includes an email address where you can send a screenshot or details about your scam text to help identify and stop the scammers.

 

What to Ask Yourself When You Receive a Robotext

Unscrupulous scammers can be convincing. Before you click on any link, or respond to a text from a number or name you do not recognize, ask yourself:

  • “Was I expecting a package delivery?”
  • “Did I send a package to someone?”
  • “Did I ask for text notifications?”

 

What You Can Do About Spam Text Messages

First, never provide your personal information to an unknown source. Do not click on links sent by unknown sources - if in doubt, don't click. And take these additional steps to protect yourself.

On your phone:

Your phone may have an option to filter and block messages from unknown senders or spam. Here’s how to filter and block messages on an iPhone and how to block a phone number on an Android phone.

Through your wireless provider:       

Your wireless provider may have a tool or service that lets you block calls and text messages. Check ctia.org, a website for the wireless industry, to learn about the options from different providers.

With a call-blocking app:

Some call-blocking apps also let you block unwanted text messages. Go to ctia.org for a list of call-blocking apps for Android, BlackBerry, Apple, and Windows phones.

You can also search for apps online. Check out the features, user ratings, and expert reviews.

 

How To Report Spam Messages

Scammers are likely trying to defraud you. Therefore, report unwanted texts and scam/phishing messages.

  1. Report unwanted messages on the messaging app you use. Look for the option to report junk or spam.
  2. Send suspicious spam messages to 7726 (the numbers spell out "SPAM") - your wireless provider will receive and acknowledge the report.
  3. Report robotexts to the Federal Trade Commission at ReportFraud.ftc.gov

 

Legislation to Stop Illegal and Unwanted Robotexts

Robotexts are considered a type of call that is covered by the robocall rules written in 1991 - written long before robotexts became a common complaint. The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) is working to stop illegal and unwanted robocalls and intends to roll out new rules to address spam texts. Acting FFC Chairwoman Jessica Rosenworcel recently announced a proposed rule to require mobile wireless providers to block illegal text messaging. She stated in a press release, “We’ve seen a rise in scammers trying to take advantage of our trust of text messages by sending bogus robotexts that try to trick consumers to share sensitive information or click on malicious links. It’s time we take steps to confront this latest wave of fraud and identify how mobile carriers can block these automated messages before they have the opportunity to cause any harm.”

If the proposed rule is adopted by a vote of the full Commission, steps to protect consumers from illegal robotexts will be explored2.

 

Protect Yourself & Your Family Members

Improved legislation is a start, but we have a long way to go before the robotext rule becomes law. Reduce unwanted text messages on your phone and other mobile devices by identifying, blocking, and reporting scams and phishing attempts. And share this information with family members - particularly older adults who tend to be more susceptible to scams.

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1, 2 Federal Communications Commission https://www.fcc.gov/document/acting-chair-rosenworcel-proposes-rules-combat-rise-robotexts

Sources: The FederalCommunications Commission https://www.consumer.ftc.gov/blog/2020/02/text-message-about-your-fedex-package-really-scam; Consumer.ftc.gov https://www.consumer.ftc.gov/articles/how-recognize-and-report-spam-text-messages; Better Busines Bureau https://www.bbb.org/article/scams/18596-scam-alert-hit-delete-on-phony-banking-texts

 

Read 496 times Last modified on Tuesday, 26 October 2021 12:11

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