You probably get tons of text messages each day, many from family and friends. But some of those messages are scammers trying to trick you out of your hard-earned money.
According to the Federal Trade Commission’s Consumer Sentinel database, consumers lost $330 million in text message scams in 2022. Consider these numbers related to text message scams.
- $1,000 median personal losses reported from text message scams
- $3,000 median individual losses reported from bank impersonation fraud
- 51% of text fraud reports categorized as business imposters
The first step to keeping your personal information – and your money – safe is to know the signs of a scam. Below are the five most common text message scams and tips for avoiding them.
Copycat bank fraud prevention alerts
What it is: In this scam, you get a text that appears to be from your financial institution. It asks you to call a number about suspicious activity or to reply YES or NO to verify a transaction. If you reply to the text, you will get a call from a fake fraud department offering assistance. What they really want to do is make unauthorized transfers from your account.
How to avoid it: Remember that your financial institution will never call and ask you for sensitive personal information. This includes your online banking credentials. If you receive a text like this, don’t respond to it. Instead, call the member services number on the back of your card to inquire directly about any potential issues with your account.
Bogus “gifts” that can cost you
What it is: You receive a text claiming to be from a familiar company offering a free gift or reward. Claiming it is simple. You just have to pay a small shipping fee. This is a scam.
How to avoid it: Don’t click any links in text messages you weren’t expecting to receive. In this case, scammers are collecting credit card information from individuals who click the link and pay the “shipping fee.”
Fake package delivery problems
What it is: USPS, Amazon, or another delivery service sends a text stating there is a problem with your delivery. It includes a link to a spoofed website. There, you’re asked to input your credit card number to pay for a redelivery fee.
How to avoid it: If you’re contacted about an issue, and you’re expecting a delivery, login to your account for details. Another option is to call the delivery service directly.
Phony job offers
What it is: Scammers often target individuals looking for remote work or a side gig to supplement their income. They place online ads for jobs that look real but with descriptions that are too good to be true. This could include mystery shopping, virtual personal assistants, and even government jobs.
How to avoid it: Remember that any honest employer will never ask you to pay to get a job. Before applying for a job you’ve found online, and before supplying any personal information, do a quick search. Look up the name of the company with “scam,” “review,” or “complaint” to see if others have experienced any issues.
Not-really-from-Amazon security alerts
What it is: Have you received a text from “Amazon” asking you to verify a large purchase you never made? Or maybe the text was alerting you to an issue with your account? That was very likely a scammer.
How to avoid it: Log in to your Amazon account directly. There, you can check your orders to see if there are any that aren’t yours. For any disputes, call the customer service number listed on Amazon’s official website. And, remember, never give anyone you don’t know remote access to your computer or device to solve a “security issue.”