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 or “smishing” – SMS phishing) trick consumers into providing personal data to criminals who pose as a familiar business, organization or family member. Reviewing spam text message examples can help avoid falling victim to these dangerous schemes.
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.
If you don’t think you’d ever fall for a phishing text scam, think again. 11.94 billion spam texts were sent in May 2022 alone – that's almost 43 spam texts for every person in the U.S. In addition, while the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) noted a drop in fraudulent calls, it also saw a 145% increase in reports of scam texting.
Today we’ll share ten common spam text message examples and tips for fighting back against SMS phishing scams.
Table of Contents
- 10 Spam Text Message Examples
- 4 Clear Ways to Identify a Fake Text Message
- How to Handle a Spam Text Message
- What Should I Do If I Respond To a Spam Text?
10 Spam Text Message Examples
There seems 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:
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 unsure 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 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.
Legitimate companies won’t ask for your personal or financial information over text. So 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 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 offer of free money – with high scrutiny. Scammers often use bitcoin as currency in blackmail scams that demand payment for withholding personal details 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.
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.
9. Reactivate Your Account
You can’t always trust the most seemingly innocent messages. If you receive a text that one of your accounts has been hacked or compromised, delete the message and then contact the account directly rather than responding.
10. You Have a New Billing Statement
If you suddenly receive notifications that your statement is ready or if you receive a “thank you for your payment” message, proceed with caution.
This is another common type of scam. If it’s a company you believe you’ve done business with but you aren’t sure about any recent transaction, go online, find the company’s website and locate their customer service contact information. Never use the contact information provided in the suspicious text.
DID YOU KNOW?
Under the Telephone Consumer Protection Act (TCPA), businesses may not send messages to you without your permission. So even if you have a long-standing relationship with a legitimate company, they cannot text you if you haven’t granted express written consent.
How To Identify a Fake Text Message Quickly: 4 Ways
Many spam messages are easy to spot; however, hackers who send phishing messages have refined their techniques over time, making them extremely convincing. Therefore, understanding how to identify a fake text message requires continuous learning.
Be on the lookout for the following types of spam text messages:
Is the sender familiar (like Amazon or Apple – the most imitated brand in all phishing scams), but the text is poorly written or full of typos? It may direct you to a spoofed website that looks legitimate but isn’t.
Is the sender telling you something is wrong with your account or payment method and demanding immediate action? Using urgency is a surefire way to prompt people to act without thinking.
Be wary of texts starting with a generic “Hello” instead of addressing you by name.
It’s Too Good To Be True
Are they offering gift cards, discount codes or prizes for responding with your personal information?
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 phone number is active, which guarantees more texts.
- DO block numbers on your phone. Scammers often send texts using different names and numbers, but blocking annoying or spammy texts can slow them down.
- DON’T click links in a text. Clicking suspicious 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. Several spam-blocking apps are quite effective in preventing text scams and annoying calls from telemarketers. These include:
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.
What Should I Do If I Respond To a Spam Text?
Did you find this article because you’ve already responded to a spam text and don’t know what to do next? We’re here to help!
- First, report it. Reporting spam texts is an effective way to stop this illegal activity – for yourself and others.
- Block the spammer’s phone number from your phone.
- Inform your carrier of the number you received the spam text from.
- Call your credit card companies, alert them to possible fraudulent transactions, and cancel cards if necessary.
- Change your passwords to sensitive information sources such as banking, healthcare, email addresses and social media apps.
Avoid Sending "Phishy" Text Messages With Textedly
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.