Watch Out for Strange Text Messages Seeking Personal Information
don't respond to suspicious texts from unfamiliar numbers
If you get a strange looking text message from an email address or phone number that you don't recognize, it's best not to respond to it. Responding to one of these messages can cause you a lot of problems, such as unwanted charges or identity theft, not to mention confirm to scammers that your number is valid.
Some of the more common messages consumers receive have to do with credit or debit cards. The message may say that the consumer's credit or debit card has been blocked and that they need to call a special number to fix it.
Other common messages may use the promise of free gifts or product offers to get you to reveal personal information. Sometimes the messages may claim you have won a prize.
Still, some messages try to lure in the gullible or those who are feeling charitable, claiming that the sender is raising money for a certain charity or certain cause.
One thing in common
The one thing all of these messages have in common is that they want you to provide, at some point, personal information. This can include bank account or Social Security numbers.
illegal unsolicited messages
It's illegal to send unsolicited commercial email messages to wireless devices, including cell phones and pagers, unless the sender gets your permission first. It's also illegal to send unsolicited text messages from an auto-dialer — equipment that stores and dials phone numbers using a random or sequential number generator.
The two exceptions to this law are: 1) transactional or relationship types of messages. If a company has a relationship with you, it can send you things like statements or warranty information, and 2) non-commercial messages. This includes political surveys or fundraising messages.
What should you do If you get a suspicious text message?
- DON'T RESPOND. Responding only confirms that your phone number is valid, making it likely that you'll get more unsolicited texts.
- Remember, scammers may communicate by text message but your real bank or credit card company isn't likely to contact you this way if there's a legitimate problem with your account.
- Never agree to provide personal financial information like your bank account number or SSN to someone who contacts you, no matter who they claim to be or why they say they need it.
Report ALL suspicious messages Immediately
If you receive unwanted commercial text messages, file a complaint with the Federal Trade Commission and the Federal Communications Commission.