Watch Out for Strange Text Messages Seeking Personal Information

don't respond to suspicious texts from unfamiliar numbers

Watch Out for Strange Text Messages Seeking Personal Information
Image: Pexels
April 2, 2018

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.

A number of consumers have reported getting texts that list a phone number and say that a credit or debit card has been blocked. People who call the number in the text are asked to provide personal information such as their bank account or Social Security numbers.

Other common spam text messages may use the promise of free gifts or product offers to get you to reveal personal information. This can lead to unwanted charges on your cell phone bill—or worse, identity theft.

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 FTC. The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) also accepts complaints about unwanted text messages.