Recently I’ve received a surge in text message scam stuff. In the past, I’d get something spammy occasionally. However, this week it’s been a deluge. I’m not sure if my name got on some list or if there’s a new scam out there or what, but it’s frustrating. Here’s what I’ve been getting along with some tips for safety if you have the same experience.
The Stimulus Text Message Scam
The first text message scam piece I got this week didn’t surprise me all that much. Californians are due to get another $600 stimulus check soon. Therefore, I can see how scammers would hop on that and try to take advantage of people who are keeping an eye out of that. But you can see just from looking at it that something’s not right:
How to Stay Safe From a Stimulus Text Message Scam
There are a few things here that immediately mark this as fishy:
- Check out that URL link. Does that look legitimate to you? No. It reveals itself as a text message scam.
- The emphasis on IMMEDIATELY is designed to pressure you into reacting.
- Look at the date. There’s no actual date listed; just a month and year.
- Our stimulus checks are $600. They aren’t $613.
Those are just a few things that should tell you right away that something isn’t right. Of course, just receiving the message is a warning in and of itself. After all, the federal government isn’t going to text us about our stimulus checks. They’re going to send them or not. If we don’t claim them, they’re not going to text us. If you expect a stimulus check that you haven’t received, you should go directly to the legitimate online websites such as IRS Get My Payment to check the status.
Then There Were These …
After I received that, though (which, importantly, I did not click the link on), I started to receive a series of other text messages. Take a look:
As you can see, each text message comes from a different number. The wording is a little bit different each time. But they have some key things in common that immediately warn you that this is a text message scam to stay away from:
- Again, there are those words that make you feel compelled to act. IMMEDIATELY. Or BEFORE MIDNGIHT. Or “Final Notice.” Scammers use these words because they want us to react. They want us to think we’re missing something if we don’t click that link.
- Look at those weird URL links!! courtyyunluckye, narcoticluselessm ?!? I didn’t order anything from places like that. They don’t even look real. Again, I didn’t click these links because I don’t want to put myself at risk but I can tell from looking at them that they aren’t going to take me anywhere I need to be.
- I got two “final notices” from two different phone numbers for different “tracking codes.” Real tracking codes are rarely four or five digit numbers. Plus, I would know if I’d ordered anything.
- Again, there’s a month and a time, but there’s no date.
So, all of these things indicate scam.
How to Protect Yourself from Text Message Scams
When you get a text message, never react immediately. If the message scares you, there’s a good chance it’s a scam. Don’t click that link.
Think it through. Does the URL look real? Are you expecting a package that you haven’t received?
If you think that there’s any chance at all that the message is real, investigate on your own. Don’t just click that link. Instead, follow up through appropriate channels. For example, I do know that I have an Amazon order as well as something coming this week from FedEx. If I thought that any of these messages were real, then I would go to the Amazon and FedEx sites directly to track my packages. I would not follow weird links from my phone.
Finally, you can look up a portion of the text itself online and see if it’s a scam. I looked up just the word “narcoticluselessm.” Immediately it came back as a spam number.
How to Report Text Message Scams
According to the FTC, you can block text messages from unwanted numbers. Unfortunately, each one this week was from a different number. So that’s not helpful. However, the FTC also says that you can forward the message to 7726 as a means to report it to them. Alternatively, you can report it online at ReportFraud.ftc.gov.
Have you received any messages like this?
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