Identify and Stop Scam/Spam Text Messages

Identify and Stop ScamScam A Scam is a confidence trick - a crime -  is an attempt to defraud a person or group after first gaining their trust through deception. Scams or confidence tricks exploit victims using their credulity, naïveté, compassion, vanity, irresponsibility, or greed and exploiting that. Researchers have defined confidence tricks as "a distinctive species of fraudulent conduct ... intending to further voluntary exchanges that are not mutually beneficial", as they "benefit con operators ('con men' - criminals) at the expense of their victims (the 'marks')". A scam is a crime even if no money was lost./Spam Text Messages

Staying Safe On Your Phone

A SCARSSCARS SCARS - Society of Citizens Against Relationship Scams Inc. A government registered crime victims' assistance & crime prevention nonprofit organization based in Miami, Florida, U.S.A. SCARS supports the victims of scams worldwide and through its partners in more than 60 countries around the world. Incorporated in 2015, its team has 30 years of continuous experience educating and supporting scam victims. Visit www.AgainstScams.org to learn more about SCARS. Guide

Text Message ScamsScams A Scam is a confidence trick - a crime -  is an attempt to defraud a person or group after first gaining their trust through deception. Scams or confidence tricks exploit victims using their credulity, naïveté, compassion, vanity, irresponsibility, or greed and exploiting that. Researchers have defined confidence tricks as "a distinctive species of fraudulent conduct ... intending to further voluntary exchanges that are not mutually beneficial", as they "benefit con operators ('con men' - criminals) at the expense of their victims (the 'marks')". A scam is a crime even if no money was lost., Phishing Messages, & Spam Texts

One Of The Greatest Battlegrounds Of Today’s Internet Is On Your Phone!

Text and Instant messaging is a growing source of cybercrimeCybercrime Cybercrime is a crime related to technology, computers, and the Internet. Typical cybercrime are performed by a computer against a computer, or by a hacker using software to attack computers or networks. and this means that as much as half of all are victimized. In Brazil. alone in 2020 there were more than 5 million WhatsApp victims.

Of course, no one likes spam messages, but there is far more to this than a simple annoyance.

This SCARS Guide will help you to identify and avoid these online and on-device risks.

Current Trends On Cybercrime

  1. Phishing attacks are still extremely common
  2. Credential phishing is becoming less common
  3. Spear phishing emails are the most popular targeted attack vector
  4. Human intelligence is the best defense against phishing attacks
  5. Phishing attacks are getting more sophisticated
  6. Attackers are using tricks such as Zombie Phish and shortened URLs
  7. Webmail and SaaS users continue to be the biggest targets
  8. Smaller organizations see a higher rate of malicious emails
  9. Malicious emails are most likely to hit mining companies
  10. People in Saudi Arabia are most likely to receive malicious emails
  11. Many data breaches stem from phishing attacks
  12. Knowledge of phishing terms varies among generations
  13. Sextortion is a common tactic in phishing campaigns
  14. Popular appsApps Applications or Apps An application (software), commonly referred to as an ‘app’ is a program on a computer, tablet, mobile phone or device. Apps are designed for specific tasks, including checking the weather, accessing the internet, looking at photos, playing media, mobile banking, etc. Many apps can access the internet if needed and can be downloaded (used) either for a price or for free. Apps are a major point of vulnerability on all devices. Some are designed to be malicious, such as logging keystrokes or activity, and others can even transport malware. Always be careful about any app you are thinking about installing. continue to be used to distribute malwareMalware Short for "malicious software," this term means computer viruses and other types of programs that cybercriminals use to disrupt or access your computer, typically with the aim of gathering sensitive files and accounts.
  15. Secure Email Gateway (SEG) are far from free of phishing attacks
  16. Malicious attachments remain common
  17. Some phishing attack payloads are location-aware
  18. SSLSSL Secure Socket Layer (SSL) - SSL technology secretly encodes information that is sent over the Internet between your computer and the bank, helping to ensure that the information remains confidential. is no longer an indicator of a safe site.
  19. Gift cards are still a popular form of payment in BEC attacks
  20. A custom phishing page costs $3–12

Confused Consumers

Most people believe that they know a scam when they see one. Most users also believe that “scams could never happen to me…” but a recent study by McAfee shows that over 97% of consumers were unable to correctly identify phishing scams when presented with them.

As digital communication has evolved so has the sophistication of cybercriminals. In addition to fraudulent phone calls and email phishing scams, text scams have become more common with the proliferation of smartphones and the emergence of text and instant messages as a part of everyday communication. This type of fraudFraud In law, fraud is intentional deception to secure unfair or unlawful gain (money or other assets), or to deprive a victim of a legal right. Fraud can violate civil law (e.g., a fraud victim may sue the fraud perpetrator to avoid the fraud or recover monetary compensation) or criminal law (e.g., a fraud perpetrator may be prosecuted and imprisoned by governmental authorities), or it may cause no loss of money, property, or legal right but still be an element of another civil or criminal wrong. The purpose of fraud may be monetary gain or other benefits, for example by obtaining a passport, travel document, or driver's license, or mortgage fraud, where the perpetrator may attempt to qualify for a mortgage by way of false statements. A fraud can also be a hoax, which is a distinct concept that involves deliberate deception without the intention of gain or of materially damaging or depriving a victim. is also known as “smishingSmishing What is a smishing attack? Smishing is a form of social engineering that exploits SMS, or text, messages. Text messages can contain links to such things as webpages, email addresses or phone numbers that when clicked may automatically open a browser window or email message or dial a number. This integration of email, voice, text message, and web browser functionality increases the likelihood that users will fall victim to engineered malicious activity..”

SMS phishing (aka Smishing) is the fraudulent solicitation of your personal information through the use of text messaging. Although far less common than other kinds of digital dupes, smishing can be effective due to the personal nature of our inbox. After all, texts are reserved for close friends, family, and businesses who we have consented to connect.

So, how can you protect yourself from smishing scams and spot them before it’s too late? We have the low down on all the warning signs as well as what to do if you encounter one.

SimpleTexting Tip: To help you out, we have a team dedicated to compliance who monitor messages sent through ST for suspicious activity to ensure our platform is only used for good!

5 Tips

To Identify Fake Text Messages or Text Scams

While each text scam looks a little different, there are some common hallmarks of these messages you can look out for that serve as dead giveaways for fraud.

1. Unusually Long Numbers

Legitimate SMS marketing messages are often sent from a 6-digit shortcode (like 711711), a 10-digit toll-free number (ex: 844-462-2554) or a local text-enabled business phone. If you were to receive a text message from an unidentified 11-digit number, the odds are high that it’s a scam.

So, even if they identify themselves as your bank, realtor, insurance agent, etc. you should look to the number the message was sent from for verification. The potential of this happening is low, but it is still something to be wary of!

2. Random Family Emergency Texts

The family emergency scam is one of the most common tricks according to the FCC. In this instance, you’ll receive a text message saying something along the lines of “your family member who lives in __ (or is traveling in __) has run into some trouble. They’re in need of financial help and a money transfer is the only way to help them.” In some instances, they can even say that contacting this family member will cause them danger.

These texts can be very frightening, which is why they work. However, before you take any action or send money, take a pause. Attempt to verify the person’s identity by asking questions a stranger couldn’t know the answers to. Reach out to a trusted family member or friend to verify the scammerScammer A Scammer or Fraudster is someone that engages in deception to obtain money or achieve another objective. They are criminals that attempt to deceive a victim into sending more or performing some other activity that benefits the scammer.’s story (even if they say to keep it a secret). And always feel free to call 1-877-FTCFTC The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) is an independent agency of the United States government whose principal mission is the enforcement of civil (non-criminal) U.S. antitrust law and the promotion of consumer protection. The FTC can also act as a clearinghouse for criminal reports sent to other agencies for investigation and prosecution. To learn more visit www.FTC.gov or to report fraud visit ReportFraud.FTC.gov-HELP for advice.

EXAMPLE:
Today 11:34 AM
Your grandson is being held in jail. He needs bail money right away.

3. Refund Scams

Another common smishing scam comes not in the form of asking for money, but in claiming money is owed to you. A fake refund often comes from a “government” agency or monthly billing program (like your cell phone provider) letting you know you were “overcharged”. Oftentimes they will direct you to share direct deposit information so a charge can be reversed. In this case, once they secure your routing number, they can access your account and steal from you.

EXAMPLE:
Today 9:55 AM
AT&T: Your postpaid account has been charged USD500 for LTE use. Is this a wrong charge? Text 500 send to 2936XXXXXXX for REFUND

4. Reactivation Scam

These scams tend to look innocent on the surface. They generally say something along the lines of “your [email, text, app] password has been [comprised, used with another device, hacked]. Your account has been deactivated for your protection. Text XXXXX to reactivate your account.” In the case of these messages, simply delete the messages (and report them). Do NOT reply or send passwords. Simply check the accounts in question. When you see they haven’t been deactivated you’ll have your answer.

EXAMPLE:
Today 3:00 PM
User #25388: Your Gmail profile has been compromised. We have deactivated it for your protection. Text back SENDNOW in order to reactivate your account.

5. “You’ve Won a Prize!”

Another one of the most common text scams is also the simplest. Recipients receive a text informing them that they’ve won a prize, giveaway, or something of that nature. Through either a hyperlink or reply they’re instructed to reach out to claim the reward. However, this is yet another ploy to receive your personal information.

In this case, if you did not enter to win anything, ignore the message. If you’re not sure if you did (let’s face it, we all enter contests hoping for something every now and then) reach out to the brand on their verified website or social media pages to double-check.

What to Do if You Fall Victim to a Text Scam

If you “fall” for a text scam, know that you’re not alone. Last year 47,567 different scams were added to the Better Business Bureau (BBB) Scam Tracker, with numerous victims for each new plot.

The good news is, the worst-case scenario is not always the most common. Just because you’ve sent money to a scammer doesn’t mean that tomorrow you’ll be homeless and penniless. The important thing is to realize your mistake and act as quickly as you can.

  • Cancel credit cards used for transactions and report the fraud
  • Inform your cell phone carrier of the fraudulent number and incident
  • BlockBlock Blocking is a technical action usually on social media or messaging platforms that restricts or bans another profile from seeing or communicating with your profile. To block someone on social media, you can usually go to their profile and select it from a list of options - often labeled or identified with three dots ••• the number from your phone
  • Change your passwords on important/sensitive apps such as online banking, social media, any other space with personal information stored.

Once you’ve taken these precautions, the FTC warns of a few possible outcomes from the scam:

  • Malware: responding to a text can potentially invite malware to get installed on your device which can gather personal information.
  • Unwanted charges: due to the fact that message and data rates may apply to any text exchange, you may notice unwanted charges on your next cellphone bill due to your interaction with the scammers.
  • Slow cell speeds: junk or spam installed on your phone from hackers may cause your phone’s sending and browsing speeds to slow down.

Tips to Stop Text Scams or “Smishing” Messages

If you’re looking to “can the spam” when you receive it and end the smishing scam for good, there are a few things you can do:

  • Slow down: Often times acting too quickly when you receive these messages can result in an error. The scammers want you to feel confused and rushed. So remember to slow down and don’t fall into the trap of providing an immediate response.
  • Don’t click: Never ever (ever) click on an in-message link if you suspect that it’s spam.
  • Delete the message: Don’t risk accidentally replying to or saving that content on your phone. If you are reporting the message, feel free to take a screenshot for posterity. But then delete it completely.
  • Report the spam: You can report any suspected text spam directly to your carrier or to the FTC through their complaint assistant.

The silver lining in all of this remains: text message scams are far less common than other digital tactics.

Photo Credit: scamwatch.gov.au

Resources

Always remember that knowledge is your greatest defense against scams. For a comprehensive list of the most popular scams and frauds in the US, check out this government-developed guide.

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By the SCARS™ Editorial Team
Society of Citizens Against Relationship ScamsSCARS SCARS - Society of Citizens Against Relationship Scams Inc. A government registered crime victims' assistance & crime prevention nonprofit organization based in Miami, Florida, U.S.A. SCARS supports the victims of scams worldwide and through its partners in more than 60 countries around the world. Incorporated in 2015, its team has 30 years of continuous experience educating and supporting scam victims. Visit www.AgainstScams.org to learn more about SCARS. Inc.

A Worldwide Crime Victims Assistance & Crime Prevention Nonprofit Organization Headquartered In Miami Florida USA & Monterrey NL Mexico, with Partners In More Than 60 Countries
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IN MANY SCARS ARTICLES, WE MENTION TOPICS INCLUDING TRAUMATrauma Emotional and psychological trauma is the result of extraordinarily stressful events that shatter your sense of security, making you feel helpless in a dangerous world. Psychological trauma can leave you struggling with upsetting emotions, memories, and anxiety that won’t go away. It can also leave you feeling numb, disconnected, and unable to trust other people. Traumatic experiences often involve a threat to life or safety or other emotional shocks, but any situation that leaves you feeling overwhelmed and isolated can result in trauma, even if it doesn’t involve physical harm. It’s not the objective circumstances that determine whether an event is traumatic, but your subjective emotional experience of the event. The more frightened and helpless you feel, the more likely you are to be traumatized. Trauma requires treatment, either through counseling or therapy or through trauma-oriented support programs, such as those offered by SCARS., ABUSE, SELF-HARM, SUICIDALITY, RISKY BEHAVIORBehavior   Behavior / Behavioral Actions Otherwise known as habits, behavior or behavioral actions are strategies to help prevent online exploitation that target behavior, such as social engineering of victims. Changing your behavior is the ONLY effective means to reduce or prevent scams., DISORDERS, ADDICTION, AND OTHER PSYCHOLOGICAL CONDITIONS. THE INFORMATION IS NOT A SUBSTITUTE FOR PROFESSIONAL MEDICAL ADVICE. ALWAYS SEEK THE ADVICE OF YOUR PHYSICIAN OR OTHER QUALIFIED HEALTH PROVIDERS WITH ANY QUESTIONS YOU MAY HAVE.

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2022-03-24T21:27:34-04:00November 12th, 2021|Categories: ABOUT SCAMMERS|Tags: , , , , |

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