Now the bad news: scam robocalls are being replaced by SMS scams. Every day more and more American consumers receive spam text messages, a danger they may not be prepared for. One careless response to these texts can expose you and your clients to a financial storm.
Overview of SMS Scams
Scammers will always look for a way around governmental regulations. Since robocalls are now so closely monitored, they have turned to SMS as a way to trick consumers into sharing sensitive information.
Despite being illegal, spam texts have increased 12-fold in the last year, jumping from 1 billion in July 2021 to 12 billion in July 2022—a genuinely appalling increase. These cybercriminals are using the focus on robocall regulation to their advantage.
In response to this trend, the FCC has called for regulations forcing wireless carriers to block illegal texts, but these measures are not currently in place. Your consumers must protect themselves from these illicit texts until the government takes more action.
Types of SMS Scams
SMS scams, also known as smishing, are often effective because they seemingly come from companies that consumers know well. For instance, a common scam is sending texts claiming to be from Amazon. These texts may ask you to provide personal information to track a package.
Many consumers receive texts warning them of illegal banking activity and urging them to click on a link to monitor their accounts. Of course, these links lead to scammers who will use your personal information to hack your accounts or steal sensitive personal information such as your SS number.
Other common scams include texts claiming you've won an award, your debit card is locked, or FedEx needs you to confirm your delivery preferences. You may also receive texts that purport to be from a friend of a friend or that have a number that looks local. Be aware that a text with your area code may well be from a scammer located halfway around the globe.
Statistics for 2022 Spam Text Messages
2022 has been a banner year for SMS scammers. The following are some frightening statistics about the current state of spam texts:
- Over 400 million spam texts are sent daily
- 2.8 billion spam texts are sent weekly
- 596 million spam texts are sent on the weekends
- 278 million texts are sent per minute
- Approximately 44 spam texts are sent per person each day.
The sheer volume of these texts guarantees that even cautious consumers may carelessly click on one when they are distracted or at the end of a busy day. And just one malignant link can lead to a world of financial trouble for the unlucky individual. Identify theft, account hacking, and bad credit; all can result from one successful SMS scam.
Tips to Avoid SMS Scams
The tips to avoid SMS scams are similar to those used to fight other types of consumer scams. Most importantly, you should never click on an in-text link unless you initiated contact with the company. The company would not contact you via text for a real problem.
If you receive a notice that concerns you, such as "Urgent action needed for your Paypal account," ignore it. If you need to check for your peace of mind, go to your web browser and enter the address for the company yourself. That way, you'll reach the legitimate site and can verify that your account is safe.
Other safeguards include:
- Never call the number given in the text.
- Block the sender and then send the text to SPAM (7726).
- If the text references a company, call the company directly to report it.
- Make sure you're on the FCC's Do Not Call Registry.
- Use a VPN app to disguise your location.
Remember, you should never click on an SMS link or call any phone number given in an unsolicited text. You can always contact a business directly if you have concerns about your account.
Staying Vigilant to SMS Scams
When it comes to text messages, you and your clients need to verify, verify, verify. Robocalls are declining, but scammers are tenacious and are finding other ways, including SMS scams, to target consumers. Constant vigilance is essential. If you receive a scam text, report it to the FCC's fraud site so the government can shut down the scamming operation and protect other consumers.