Advancements in technology have paved new ways for criminals to extort money and steal information from consumers. One new and increasingly common method is through spam text messages.
Also known as phishing, spam texts trick consumers into providing personal data to criminals who pose as a familiar business, organization or family member.
If you don’t think you’d ever fall for a phishing text scam, think again. The FBI reported that people lost $57 million to phishing schemes in 2019.
Today we’ll share 8 common spam text message examples and share some tips for fighting back against SMS phishing scams.
What Is a Phishing Text Message?
Have you ever received a text message from a company or person you recognized, but it didn’t seem quite “right”?
Spam text messages (also known as phishing texts or “smishing” – SMS phishing) are tools criminals use to trick you into giving them your personal or financial information.
Criminals use phishing text messages to attain usernames and passwords, social security numbers, credit card numbers and PINs to commit fraud or identity theft. Other attacks focus on duping people into downloading viruses or malware by clicking seemingly innocent links.
8 Spam Text Message Examples
There seem to be an endless amount of spam text schemes. Check out these phishing text examples so you know what red flags to look out for in your inbox.
1. You’ve Won!
Winning an unexpected prize sounds great in theory. However, being notified of winning a contest you didn’t enter is a dead giveaway of a phishing text. If you’re not sure whether an offer is authentic, contact the business directly to verify.
2. The IRS is Trying to Contact You
Government agencies like the IRS will not contact you via email, phone or text message. If any legitimate government agency needs to contact you, they will usually do so via mail or certified letter.
3. You Have a Refund Coming
Notifications involving money owed to you are enticing, aren’t they? “Our records show that you overpaid for (a product or service). Kindly supply your bank routing and account number to receive your refund.” Don’t fall for it.
4. Verify Your Bank Account
Scams hiding under the guise of financial institutions like Bank of America, Wells Fargo and Chase have famously allowed scammers to steal tons of personal banking information from customers.
Banks will only attempt to verify your identity if you’ve had recent transactions with them, like opening a new account. If you get a random verification text from your bank, it’s probably fake.
5. You Have a Package Delivery
With deliveries from Amazon and FedEx so commonplace now, a text message regarding a package or order would be easy to overlook. While shippers do send legitimate shipping update texts, they’ll never ask for personal information or money to complete a delivery.
6. Verify Your Apple iCloud ID
Any text that attempts to verify your Apple ID or another technology account is suspicious. If you suspect your account is compromised, contact the company directly and change your passwords immediately.
7. Bitcoin, Anyone?
You should treat any offer of “free” bitcoin the same as any other offers of free money – with high scrutiny. Scammers often use bitcoin as currency in blackmail scams that demand payment for withholding personal information the scammer claims to have about you.
8. A Family Member Needs Help
One of the most disturbing spam text messages leads you to believe that a family member is in trouble and needs immediate financial help. The sender tries to convince you that wiring money is necessary to prevent a financial or medical emergency – or that a loved one is involved in a kidnapping situation.
Be cautious and contact the family member directly before proceeding. If there is a genuine emergency, it’s best to reach out to appropriate authorities before sending financial aid.
DID YOU KNOW?
Under the Telephone Consumer Protection Act (TCPA), businesses may not send messages to you without your permission. Even if you have a long-standing relationship with a company, they cannot text you if you haven’t granted express written consent.
4 Ways to Identify a Spam Text Message Quickly
Many spam texts are easy to spot; however, hackers who send phishing messages have refined their techniques over time, making them extremely convincing. Be on the lookout for the following types of spam text messages:
- Is the message suspicious? Is the sender familiar (like Amazon or Apple – the most imitated brand in all phishing scams), but the message is poorly written or full of typos? The message may try to direct you to a spoofed website that looks legitimate but isn’t.
- Is the message urgent? Is the sender telling you that something is wrong with your account or payment method and demanding immediate action? Using urgency is a sure-fire way to prompt people to act without thinking.
- Is the message too good to be true? Are they offering gift cards, discount codes or prizes for responding with your personal information?
- Is the message impersonal? Be wary of texts starting with a generic “Hello” instead of addressing you by name.
How to Handle a Spam Text Message
If you think you’ve received a phishing text, what should you do? Here are some best practices to help you handle spam texts appropriately.
- DON’T respond. If you suspect a text is from a scammer, do not reply. Replying confirms your number is active, which guarantees more texts.
- DO block numbers on your phone. Scammers often send texts using different names and numbers, but continuously blocking annoying or spammy texts can slow them down.
- DON’T click links in a text. Clicking links in an unsolicited text message may infect your phone or mobile device with malware that copies your stored personal or financial information.
- DO install a spam blocking app. There are several spam blocking apps that are quite effective in preventing text scams and annoying calls from telemarketers.
How to Report a Phishing Text Message
There are several ways to report text phishing attempts:
- Report it to your phone carrier so they can stop phishing texts at the source.
- If the sender impersonates a bank, government agency or company, contact the entity directly so they can do their own investigation.
- Look for the option to report junk or spam on your messaging app.
- For iPhone: If you get an iMessage from someone who's not listed in your Contacts, you'll see a Report Junk link under the text.
- How to report spam on an Android phone
- Copy the message and forward it to 7726 (SPAM). This feature is available on most mobile carriers.
- Report it to the Federal Trade Commission at ftc.gov/complaint.
Bottom line: Would you give even your best friend your personal financial information or access to your passwords? If not, why would you give them to a stranger? Use your best judgment and exercise caution before responding to requests for information.
Avoid Sending “Phishy” Text Messages With Textedly
People are increasingly aware of phishing text message attempts. If you’re a business owner or marketer, the challenge to your business is to make sure your SMS marketing campaigns look professional.
Textedly can help your business design successful, creative SMS campaigns that inspire trust and confidence rather than get marked as spam. Textedly provides simple SMS solutions that are easy to set up, so you can start messaging your customers right away.