Watch Out for Strange Text Messages Trying to Steal Your Personal and Financial Information
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Watch Out for Strange Text Messages Trying to Steal Your Personal and Financial Information

don't interact with any suspicious text messages, especially if they are from unfamiliar numbers or seem innocent

August 16, 2021

If you get a text message from an email address or number you don't recognize, it's probably best to ignore it. Responding or clicking links can cause problems, even if you think you're unsubscribing. You may get unwanted charges on your phone bill or become the victim of identity theft. In any case, you're confirming that your number is good, opening the door to even more text messages or calls.

You get a prize!

The most common message people seem to receive from scammers is an invitation to complete a survey in order to claim a free prize, gift, product sample, etc. The message might even just tell the victim that he/she is a winner already and all that's needed next is to claim the prize. In any case, these messages are scams. You aren't going to get something free this way, especially if you haven't entered your name into the pot. And you aren't going to be notified via text message that you've won.

There's a problem with your credit or Debit card

We really hope you don't fall for this one. Scammers usually call you to scam this way, but they do send text messages. It can look like your bank might be alerting you to a problem with your account, but it's not the case. Your bank has better ways to reach you and they'll most often send a letter and email advising you that there is a secure message in your online account that you should view. They won't text you with a link or phone number to fix a cancelled, deactivated, or otherwise suspended credit or debit card.

Please Donate to this cause

Do you have that one family member that donates to every good charitable cause? Scammers know that these good-willed people are out there and hope to take advantage of them. Legitimate charities won't text you with a link to click, nor will they text you asking you to text another number to donate. Charities use mail and phone calls in order to get the biggest bang for their bucks. So don't fall for those scam text messages. And if you're looking for a good charity, consider donating to us for a tax deduction!

One thing in common

The one thing scam text messages have in common is that they want you to provide, at some point, personal information. This can include bank account numbers, credit or debit card numbers, Social Security numbers, or some other personally identifiable information they can use to steal your money.

unsolicited commercial messages are illegal

It's illegal to send unsolicited commercial email messages to wireless devices, including cell phones and pagers, unless the sender gets your permission first. There are two exceptions:

  • If a company has an existing relationship with you, it can send you transactional or relationship messages, such as statements or warranty information.
  • Some types of non-commercial messages, including political surveys, are allowed.

It's also illegal to send unsolicited text messages from an auto-dialer, which sends messages to phone numbers automatically, usually using a random or sequential number generator.

If you get a suspicious text message

It can be tempting to reply to a message or to click an unsubscribe link, but you shouldn't. In fact, if you get a suspicious text message, delete it. Interacting with it will confirm to the sender that your number is valid, making it likely that you'll get flooded with more unsolicited text messages and phone calls in the future.

You should remember that financial institutions don't ask for information via text messages. If you get a text message advising of a problem with one of your accounts, contact that company directly using a known good phone number. Don't call a phone number provided in the text message and don't provide any information in response to one of these messages.