Five Signs of a Text Scam
In recent years, for every business that has started to use SMS marketing for good, an increasing number have started to use text messaging as a means to steal money from unsuspecting victims. In fact, The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) just issued a new warning about a dangerous new breed of identity theft scams known as “smishing.”
In this scenario, the text message scam appears to be from a well-known source such as an internet provider, bank, or mortgage company disguised under a fake short code. The text message asks the consumer to provide personal information. The scammer uses this information to open new accounts or invade consumers’ existing accounts.
Unfortunately, these and other text messaging scams are becoming commonplace. As such, it’s important to be on the lookout for common text marketing scam indicators.
How To Spot a Text Scam
Check out these five surefire signs of a text scam:
NOTE: The content in this post does not contain legal advice. This is an overview of text message marketing laws and regulations as we understand them at the time of writing.
1. 11-Digit Numbers
In most instances, text messages from legitimate businesses are actually sent from the business telephone number and do not come from unidentified mobile numbers. This is true even if the text body includes the name of the company, so don’t be fooled if a strange number claims to be from a recognized company.
If you’re contacted by an unfamiliar number, we recommend ignoring, deleting, or blocking the number from your mobile device. This is the easiest way to avoid unwanted or unwarranted text messages from potentially stealing your important information.
2. “Winning” Raffle Prizes
There are plenty of text scams that begin by saying that the recipient has “won” a special raffle. Typically, the scammer gives the recipient a few steps to claim the supposed prize. This scam is designed to trick users into handing over money or loading credits in exchange for the “prize.”
Unless you’ve entered into a specific contest, there is no real prize at the end of the text message tunnel. Never provide personal details for “raffles” you did not enter.
There are plenty of opportunities to issue legitimate contests via SMS. To learn how, we recommend downloading our free playbook: The 9-Step Roadmap to Mastering Text Message Marketing.
3. Fake Refunds
A fake refund is another way text scams extort money from users. The scam accuses the subscriber of racking up additional charges. In most instances, the scammer gives the victim a message format to send to a mobile number for a “refund.”
Here’s an example:
“[Company Name] LTE Advisory: Your postpaid account has been charged P500 for LET use. Is this a wrong charge? Text 500 send to 2936XXXXXXX for REFUND.” Adding a “2” in front of the 10-digit cell number turns the message into a share-a-load transaction.
4. Problems With Relatives
A text message claiming trouble with relatives who live abroad is one of the most common text messaging scams in existence. The “relative” has run into a serious “issue” and she/he needs monetary assistance through load credits or money transfer services. In most instances, the relative claims to be texting from a “new” prepaid number. This number is another way to trick users into a share-a-load transaction.
5. Government Messages
Know that government agencies do not perform transactions through text messaging. Any text message claiming to be from a government agency is a definite scam, including those that claim you’ve won a raffle or are eligible for a refund. In most cases, the “agency” may not even exist.
Avoid These Common Text Scams
Instead of responding to these fraudulent text messages, inform your service provider of any suspicious activity. As a reminder, report all mobile numbers used and never provide bank information or send money. The more informed you are, the better off you’ll be should you encounter one of these text message scams.
To start initiating results-driven and legal text marketing, we recommend downloading our quick-start guide: The 9-Step Roadmap to Mastering Text Message Marketing. We’ll give you everything you need to orchestrate effective business text marketing right away! Use this special guide to access key insights around tracking your text marketing results, building high-value SMS calls to action, and more!