Beware of Scam Texts

By MNR News posted 07-29-2021 09:17

  

illustration of a cell phone with the text scam alertScammers use email or text messages to trick you into giving them your personal information or buying them gift cards. But there are several things you can do to protect yourself.

Tips include:

  • Do not click on any links
  • Do not be tricked into purchasing gift cards
  • Do not give away any personal information

How Scammers Convince You To Pay With Gift Cards

Scammers pretend to be someone they’re not to convince you to pay with gift cards. They want to scare or pressure you into acting quickly, so you don’t have time to think or talk to someone you trust. Here’s a list of common gift card scams and schemes:

  • The caller says they’re from the government — maybe the IRS or the Social Security Administration. They say you have to pay taxes or a fine, but it’s a scam.
  • The scammer pretends to be a friend or family member in an emergency and asks you to send money right away — but not tell anyone. This is a scam. If you’re worried, hang up and call your friend or relative to check that everything is all right.
  • Someone says you’ve won a prize but first, you have to pay fees or other charges with a gift card.
  • The email or text includes the name of your broker or someone you work with. Scammers have scraped this data from websites to be more convincing.  

What Gift Card Scams Looks Like

Gift cards are popular with scammers because they’re easy for people to find and buy, and they have fewer protections for buyers compared to some other payment options. They’re more like cash: once you use the card, the money on it is gone.

  1. The caller says it’s urgent. The scammer says you must pay right away or something terrible will happen. But you don’t, and it won’t.
  1. The caller usually tells you which gift card to buy. They might say to put money on an eBay, Google Play, Target, or iTunes gift card. And, the caller might stay on the phone with you while you go to the store and load money onto the card. These are all signs of a scam.

Report Fraud

If someone asks you to pay them with gift cards:

  • Report it to the Federal Trade Commission at ReportFraud.ftc.gov.
  • If you lost money, also report it to local law enforcement. A police report may help when you deal with the card issuer.

 

Spam Text Messages and Phishing

Scammers send fake text messages to trick you into giving them your personal information – things like your password, account number, or Social Security number. If they get that data, they could gain access to your email, bank, or other accounts. Or they could sell it to other scammers.

If you get a text message that you weren’t expecting and it asks you to give some personal information, don’t click on any links. Legitimate companies won’t ask for information about your account by text.

The scammers use a variety of ever-changing stories to try to rope you in. They may

  • Promise free prizes, gift cards or coupons  
  • Offer you a low or no interest credit card

Scammers also send fake messages that say they have some information about your account or a transaction. They may:

The messages might ask you to give personal information to claim your gift or pursue the offer: how much money you make, how much you owe, or your bank account, credit card, or Social Security number. Or they may tell you to click on a link to learn more about the issue. Some links may take you to a spoofed website that looks authentic but isn’t. If you log in, the scammers can steal your username and password.

Other messages may install harmful malware on your phone that steals your personal information without you realizing it.  

How To Report Spam Text Messages

If you get an unwanted text message, there are ways to report it:

  • Copy the message and forward it to 7726 (SPAM).
  • Report it to the Federal Trade Commission at ReportFraud.ftc.gov.
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