Protect Yourself from 2023’s Increasing Text Scams

Scammers are finding new ways to target unsuspecting people as technology advances. Text scams, which have become increasingly common in 2023, are one such method. Text scams use text messages to trick people into disclosing personal information, money, or access to their devices.

Due to the serious consequences they can cause, such as identity theft, financial loss, and malware infection, it is critical to be aware of these scams and learn how to avoid them. This article will review different text scams, such as smishing, spoofing, vishing, lottery, and charity. We will provide examples of each type and advice on how to avoid becoming a victim of these scams.

Smishing Scams

Smishing is a cyber attack that uses text messages to trick victims into revealing sensitive information or clicking on malicious links. It is a combination of the words “SMS” (Short Message Service) and “phishing.” Smishing attempts to dupe people into compromising their personal information and financial data or installing malware on their devices, which can result in identity theft, financial loss, and other harm.

Smishing attacks are on the rise, according to a NortonLifeLock report, with scammers impersonating reputable organizations to trick people into providing sensitive information. The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) has also issued consumer alerts regarding smishing scams.

Examples of Smishing Scams

1. Fake bank alerts

Victims receive text messages purporting to be from their bank, claiming a problem with their account or that a transaction must be verified. The message will frequently include a link or phone number that will take the victim to a bogus website or call centre to “resolve” the problem.

2. Tax refund scams

Messages ostensibly from a government agency, such as the IRS, informing victims that they are eligible for a tax refund and must provide personal information or click a link to claim it.

3. Prize or gift scams

Text messages inform the recipient that they have won a prize or gift and must follow a link or provide personal information to claim it.

4. Account verification scams

Messages purporting to be from well-known online services or social media platforms requesting users to confirm their login credentials or other personal information.

Tips For Avoiding Smishing Scams

  1. Be cautious of unsolicited text messages from unknown numbers or unfamiliar sources, especially if they request personal information or prompt you to click a link. 
  1. Avoid clicking on links in text messages. Instead, go directly to the company’s website or contact customer service to verify the message’s authenticity. 
  1. Enable two-factor authentication (2FA) on your accounts to add an extra layer of security. 
  1. Keep your device’s operating system and security software up-to-date to protect against known vulnerabilities and threats. 
  1. Be aware of common smishing tactics and educate yourself on the latest scams. 
  1. Report suspicious text messages to your mobile carrier or relevant authorities.

Spoofing Scams

Spoofing is a cyber attack in which the attacker pretends to be a legitimate source by spoofing communication methods such as email addresses, phone numbers, or IP addresses. Spoofing aims to trick the recipient into thinking the communication is genuine, which can lead to disclosing sensitive information, financial loss, or malware installation.

Examples Of Spoofing Scams

1. Email spoofing

Attackers send emails with a forged sender address to make the recipient believe it’s from a trusted source. It can lead to phishing attacks where victims are tricked into revealing their login credentials or personal information. 

2. Caller ID spoofing

Scammers frequently pose as friends, family members, or even employers to trick victims into providing sensitive information or transferring money. The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) offers information and tips on identifying and avoiding these scams.

3. IP spoofing

Cybercriminals forge a trusted source’s IP address to circumvent security measures and launch attacks against networks or systems, such as Distributed Denial of Service (DDoS) attacks.

Tips For Avoiding Spoofing Scams

  1. Verify the authenticity of any suspicious communication by contacting the purported source directly through a known, trusted method (e.g., their official website or customer service number).
  1. Refrain from clicking links or downloading attachments in unsolicited emails or messages.
  1. Be cautious of requests for personal information, even if the communication appears to be from a trusted source. 
  1. Protect your devices from threats using security software such as antivirus and anti-malware programs.
  1. Regularly update your devices’ operating systems and security software to ensure protection against known vulnerabilities. 
  1. Enable two-factor authentication (2FA) on your accounts for added security.
  1. Educate yourself and others about common spoofing tactics and the latest scams.

Vishing Scams

Vishing, also known as “voice phishing,” is a scam that employs phone calls or voice messages to trick victims into disclosing sensitive information such as personal information, financial information, or login credentials. Scammers frequently impersonate trusted organizations, such as banks, government agencies, or utility companies, to trick victims into disclosing sensitive information or making payments.

Examples Of Vishing Scams

1. Tech support scams

Scammers call victims claiming to be from a well-known technology company, claiming that their computer has a virus or other problem. The scammer then attempts to persuade the victim to grant remote access to their device or to pay for unnecessary support services.

2. Bank fraud

Scammers frequently impersonate banks or financial institutions to access victims’ accounts. The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) has resources available to assist consumers in identifying and reporting these types of scams.

3. Government impostor scams

Victims receive calls from individuals pretending to be government officials, such as IRS agents or Social Security representatives, demanding payment for alleged tax debts, fines, or other penalties. 

4. Lottery or sweepstakes scams

Scammers inform victims that they’ve won a large sum of money or a valuable prize, but they must first provide personal information or pay a fee to claim their winnings.

Tips For Avoiding Vishing Scams

  1. Be cautious of unsolicited phone calls or voice messages, especially if they request sensitive information or prompt you to take immediate action. 
  2. Verify the authenticity of any suspicious call by contacting the purported organization directly through a known, trusted method (e.g., their official website or customer service number). 
  1. Only provide personal information, financial data, or account details over the phone if you know the caller’s identity. 
  1. Educate yourself on common vishing tactics and stay updated on the latest scams.
  1. Consider registering your phone number with the National Do Not Call Registry to minimize the number of telemarketing calls you receive.
  1. If you suspect a call is a vishing scam, hang up and report it to the appropriate authorities.

Lottery Scams

Lottery scams are a type of fraud in which victims are duped into believing they have won a lottery, sweepstakes, or another prize. Typically, the scammer contacts the victim via email, phone call, text message, or social media and claims that the prize can be claimed after providing personal information or paying a fee, taxes, or other charges. 

Examples Of Lottery Scams

1. Email lottery scams

Victims receive an email informing them that they have won a lottery or sweepstakes and must respond with personal information or click on a link to claim the prize.

2. Text message lottery scams

Like email lottery scams, victims receive a text message informing them of their alleged winnings, with instructions to follow a link or provide personal details. 

3. Social media lottery scams

Scammers use social media platforms to reach out to potential victims, claiming they have won a prize and need to provide personal information or make a payment to claim it. 

4. Advance fee lottery scams

Victims are informed they have won a prize but must pay a fee, taxes, or other charges before receiving their winnings. These fees are often requested via wire transfer, gift cards, or other untraceable methods.

Tips For Avoiding Lottery Scams

  1. Be sceptical of unsolicited messages or communications claiming you have won a lottery or prize, especially if you don’t remember entering any such contest.
  1. Do not provide personal information or make payments to claim a prize. Legitimate lotteries and sweepstakes typically do not require payment or personal details to claim winnings. 
  1. Verify the legitimacy of any lottery or sweepstakes by conducting independent research or contacting the organization directly through trusted channels. 
  1. Be cautious of requests to send money through wire transfers, gift cards, or other untraceable methods, as scammers often use these. 
  1. Keep your devices and security software up-to-date to protect against potential threats. 
  1. Educate yourself on common lottery tactics and stay informed about the latest scams. 
  1. Report any suspected lottery scams to the appropriate authorities, such as the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) or local law enforcement.

Charity Scams

Charity scams involve falsely soliciting money or other resources to support a legitimate charitable cause or organization. Scammers frequently prey on people’s goodwill and trust by posing as genuine charities or creating fake ones to collect funds for their gain.

Examples Of Charity Scams

1. Disaster relief scams

These scams prey on victims’ goodwill by posing as representatives of charities or disaster relief organizations and soliciting donations. The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) provides resources for identifying and avoiding charity scams.

2. Social media scams

Scammers may use social media platforms to spread false information about a charity or to set up bogus fundraising campaigns, frequently using emotional stories and images to dupe potential donors.

3. Email phishing scams

Scammers may send mass emails posing as a reputable charity, soliciting donations or personal information, and directing recipients to click on a link or download an attachment that may contain malware.

4. Telephone scams

Fraudsters may call potential donors, claiming to be from a charity and soliciting donations, frequently using high-pressure tactics and aggressive sales pitches.

Tips For Avoiding Charity Scams

  1. Before donating, research the organization to ensure its legitimacy. Verify its registration with government authorities and check online for reviews, ratings, or complaints.
  1. Be wary of unsolicited emails, texts, or calls asking for donations. Legitimate organizations typically do not use these methods to solicit funds.
  1. Avoid giving in to high-pressure sales tactics or emotional appeals. Legitimate charities will not pressure you into donating immediately.
  1. Verify the charity’s website: If you receive an email or text with a link to a charity website, verify the website’s URL independently by searching for the organization online. Scammers often create fake websites that mimic legitimate ones.
  2. Never provide personal or financial information in response to unsolicited emails, texts, or calls. Legitimate charities will not request sensitive information in this manner.
  1. When donating online, ensure the website uses secure payment processing, indicated by a padlock icon and “https://” in the URL. Avoid sending cash, wiring money, or using gift cards, as these methods are difficult to trace and recover.

Comparison of Different Text Scams

Scammers’ methods of targeting unsuspecting individuals through various forms of communication, such as text messages, emails, and phone calls, have become increasingly sophisticated. Text scams, in particular, have grown in popularity in recent years, with scammers employing various techniques to trick victims into disclosing personal information or money.

Here’s a table that compares the various text scams:

Type of ScamMethodPurposeTargetsRisks
Smishing ScamsText message with link or phone numberTrick victims into giving away personal information or moneyAnyone with a mobile phoneIdentity theft, financial loss, malware infection
Spoofing ScamsFake sender IDTrick victims into opening an email or text messageAnyone with an email or mobile phonePhishing, malware infection, identity theft
Vishing ScamsPhone call pretending to be from a trusted sourceTrick victims into giving away personal information or moneyAnyone with a phoneFinancial loss, identity theft
Lottery ScamsText message or email informing the recipient of a lottery winTrick victims into paying fees or taxes to claim the prizeAnyone with a mobile phone or email accountFinancial loss, identity theft
Charity ScamsText message or email soliciting donations for a fake charityTrick victims into giving away moneyAnyone with a mobile phone or email accountFinancial loss, identity theft

Knowledge of various text scams is crucial, and acting promptly by reporting any unexpected messages or phone calls is recommended. Individuals can avoid falling victim to these scams and protect themselves from potential harm by remaining vigilant and protecting personal information.

Action Fraud Contact Information

Staying Informed and Vigilant in 2023

The importance of being aware of text scams in 2023 cannot be overstated. Scammers continue to find new and sophisticated ways to deceive people as technology and communication evolve. We can protect ourselves and others from falling victim to these malicious schemes by staying informed and vigilant.

We urge readers to act by reporting text scams to the appropriate authorities. You can help raise awareness, protect others, and aid law enforcement agencies in apprehending scammers by doing so. Stay safe, stay informed, and join forces to end text scams.

Leave a Comment