Messages that you’ve won a prize or need to click on a link to reactivate a credit account are popping up on cellular devices more frequently and, according to the Federal Trade Commission which tracks text spamming complaints, poses a triple threat: they often use the promise of free gifts or product offers to get you to reveal personal information; they can lead to unwanted charges on your cell phone bill; and they can slow cell phone performance.
How it Works
Text message scammers promise free gifts like computers or gift cards, or product offers like cheap mortgages, credit cards, or debt relief services to get you to reveal personal information.
To claim your gift or pursue an offer, you may be asked to share personal information, like how much money you make, how much you owe, or your bank account information, credit card number, or Social Security number. Clicking on a link in the message can install malware that collects information from your phone. Once the spammer has your information, it is sold to marketers or, worse, identity thieves.
Can the Spam
Here are a few steps from the FTC you can take to protect yourself:
- Delete text messages that ask you to confirm or provide personal information: Legitimate companies don’t ask for information like your account numbers or passwords by email or text.
- Don’t reply, and don’t click on links provided in the message: Links can install malware on your computer and take you to spoof sites that look real but whose purpose is to steal your information.
- Treat your personal information like cash: Your Social Security number, credit card numbers, and bank and utility account numbers can be used to steal your money or open new accounts in your name. Don’t give them out in response to a text.
- Place your cell phone number on the National Do Not Call Registry .
- If you are an AT&T, T-Mobile, Verizon, Sprint or Bell subscriber, you can report spam texts to your carrier by copying the original message and forwarding it to the number 7726 (SPAM), free of charge.
- Review your cell phone bill for unauthorized charges, and report them to your carrier.
If you receive unwanted commercial text messages, file a complaint with the FTC. The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) also accepts complaints about unwanted text messages .