One fine day you are sitting on the couch when you receive a text message that says you won $100,000.00. What’s your first reaction upon seeing the text? If you have some awareness of how text scams work in the real world, you probably dismissed it and just went about your day. Perhaps you couldn’t simply ignore it because the texter got pertinent personal details of yours right: your name, your mobile number, your location. This is why it’s important to be able to identify a text scam.

The Unfortunate Reality

On any given day, unwanted messages, calls, emails, solicitations, or kinds of communication being pumped into your system constantly will get on your nerves. But since staying connected throughout this health crisis is essential, we cannot truly separate ourselves from our gadgets because this is where we get news– not just about the world, but about the people we care about.

The sad reality is that even amid a global pandemic, some still choose to take advantage of innocent mobile users who fall prey to their tricks. Among the most common tactics used by scammers is phishing emails, and then including attachments claimed to have further information on COVID-19. Upon opening the attachment, malware integrates itself into your system. Millions have been lost because of pandemic-related scams that involved phishing that promotes sowing fear.

This loss of business dollars comes as no surprise since there are billions of people all over the globe who use text messaging to communicate. SMS is a thriving medium of communication in the modern world, as it is the perceived middle ground of tech know-how between the older generation to the youngest ones. With an open rate of 98%, it is not a wonder that some companies and government agencies still use SMS as a top medium to communicate with their target audience.

What’s alarming is that above 90% of text spam messages are scams or fraudulent SMS.

Common Text Scams

Some of the most common SMS scams include the following.

1. Family Emergency Text Scam

The fraudsters might say a victim’s spouse, friend, child, relative, or loved one needs help getting out of some financial debacle, or some other accident or misfortune.

2. Fake Refunds Text Scam

Scammers send out fake refund forms from a company. In their SMS, they instruct potential victims to provide their deposit details and then reverse the fee. After knowing the recipient’s routing number, they can then access the victim’s bank account.

3. Fake Delivery Text Scam

Scammers will use legitimate parcel services’ business names to obtain additional information or charge extra money for fake parcel deliveries.

4. Reactivation Text Scam

The recipient would be someone with a real account that has been compromised. Scammers may ask naive victims for a text code, which would reset their password via a questionable domain to enable account reactivation.

5. Prize Text Scam

Scammers will say the recipient won a prize for a contest they did not enter. Claiming the prize will require personal information.

A Guide to Identifying a Text Scam

Know the importance of keeping your personal information safe. Here are some of the ways to identify a text scam, why you should not fall for such schemes.

Stay Away from Irrelevant News

Scammers who send spam SMS saying “you won X amount for joining their contest,” which you did not enter in the first place, are just sending a hasty hail Mary in the hopes that you are gullible enough to fall for their trap.

These fiends work by notifying you through SMS about claiming a prize and then requiring personal information such as your full name, address, as well as financials-related data like your bank or card details. If the prize money, terms, or offer sounds too good to be true, be an instant skeptic– it probably is.

Just because they know your name or other important information, it does not mean that they are the real deal. Data leaks are common online, so stay vigilant.

Check for Brand Image and Identity Consistency

Fraudsters may sometimes use a legitimate company’s name, logo, or other well-known credentials. It is usually harder to spot if you are not too familiar with the brand the scammer uses.

If this is a brand you have some familiarity with the brand, you may check the message’s tone, the sender’s texting habits, and how on-brand the manner of delivery was. If it is inconsistent in many respects, then it is probably a spoof.

Spelling and grammar errors are also a major red flag when trying to spot text scams. Fraudsters usually have many spelling mistakes, grammatical errors, misused words, and just overall headache-inducing content construction.

Look out for unusual numbers. Marketing messages will be sent using brand verified numbers that are 10 digits or less. Be careful when you encounter abnormally lengthy numbers. However, it could still really be hard to tell sometimes, so if you are sure if the sender is trying to scam you, block them immediately to stop receiving any form of communication from them.

If you are still unsure about the message’s validity, the ultimate solution would be to double-check with the company in question’s official communication channels. Drop them an email, communicate through their chat support, or give them a ring so you could get to the bottom of it all.

Constant Vigilance Is Key

As technology improves, they also get better at finding ways to prey on innocent consumers. Do due diligence if you are unsure of specific senders communicating with you via SMS. Never give away your data freely, even if they are “offering” some amazing reward in exchange. If it’s too good to be true, it’s probably a text scam.