How to ID & Avoid a Phone Text Scam

In the last few years, scammers have gotten smarter at using text messages to lure victims into phishing scheme traps. Their goal is to use these phone text scams, also referred to as SMS scams, to get your bank account or credit card details and other private information.

How do you avoid a phone text scam? After all, the text messages look real. The thing to remember is that there is no real difference between a phone text scam and an e-mail scam.

How Do Phone Text Scams Work?

There are two ways this kind of phone text phishing scam works. It will target either GREED or FEAR. Scammers know that these triggers provoke primal responses that can erode critical thinking in even the most intelligent and rational person. They will tailor the text message to activate your anxiety or your desire for an improved situation. And your response is almost automatic. All they need you to do is get you scared or curious enough to just click on the link they provide so you can “learn more” – and SNAP!

Examples of using FEAR in a scam

“We will disable your account” “Your bank account has been frozen”

“You have made a payment of $2353” “Your computer has a virus”

“You have been hacked, click this link to protect your system”

“We have installed malware and will delete your hard drive if you do not reply in the next 2 hours ”

Unknown scammer

Examples of using GREED in a scam

“Your package was undeliverable, please click link to confirm your details”

“You have won a ….. and just need to pay for shipping and handling ”

“You have two Bitcoins ready for conversion to AU dollars and deposit into your bank account ”

“You have qualified for a substantial reduction in your mortgage rate with no application fees”

Unknown scammer

Once you take the bait …

The phone text scam will give you a link that looks something like this:

Scam Text Message
Photo Provided by Deb Oakley 

When you click on it you are sent to a very convincing sign in page that looks like this:

Phone Text Scams
Real looking Text Phone Scam Webpage. Photo Provided by Deb Oakley 

The webpage looks real. All the logos are in the right place. There is no misuse of the English language (a common sign of a scam). The moment you sign in they have everything they need to take your money or sell that information to someone else. (People like to use the same password for everything – but that’s a different conversation )

How do you protect yourself from these scams?

You are not going to stop phone text scams from showing up in your messages. Adding yourself to a do not call list will be like asking a bank robber to not jaywalk when running away from the police. The best way that you can protect yourself from a scams is to slow down, think and pay attention.

FIRST: Are you using the bank right now?

If you are not using the bank at that exact moment, or within the last 10 minutes, it is a scam.

Banks will not send you text messages at random. If you are logging onto your computer for banking and you receive a text message there is a good chance it is really the bank. However if it’s been at least ten minutes since you have done any phone banking it will most likely be a scam.

Block the number. Delete the message.

If you are not sure – do not hit the link, but go onto the bank’s website directly from a DIFFERENT DEVICE. Most banks have internal message centres and will send you important information there. See if you have received any messages. Also check to see if there is a scam alert on the bank’s homepage.

Banks do not send text messages with web addresses!

You bank is smarter than you think. They are fully aware of these scams and have changed how they operate. If there is a web link in your text message, it is a phone scam!

Block the number. Delete the message.

Download the Banking app from the App Store.

Using the official banking app from the app store offers more security. Many will allow you to use your face, fingerprints, or a 4-6 digit code to unlock your account. I have found that not only are these apps more secure they are easier to use than the regular webpage. All communication from the bank should be through their app. Anything else is a Phone Text Scam.

Block the Number. Delete the message.

What do yo do if you think you have been scammed ?

Walk into your bank!

If you think you have been scammed you need to take action right away. My best advice is to walk into the bank. If you have been scammed there is a good chance you cannot trust the phone numbers, webpages or email addresses provided. Walking into the bank is the safest and fastest way to get this handled.

It is also a great way to alert your bank to the most recent scams so they can help protect all their other clients.

Contact the Police

The police really need to know if you have been caught by a Phone Text Scam. Contact them by going to:

Report the Scam

The ACCC sponsors a great reporting service for scams and uses this data to update consumers with alerts as to the most recent scam activities. Definitely report any scams that target you. This is also a great place to go to see if the message you received has already been reported or where to go for help if you have been victimized.

Classes on how to avoid scams for Seniors & Staff

If you or someone you know is having a hard time navigating the ever-changing internet world, we can help. We offer easy to understand classes on how to avoid internet scams specifically for Seniors, who do not have the advantage of having grown up in a permanently connected world.

We can also provide training for company teams (a large portion of corporate data breaches in the last three years has originated with an innocent misstep by a staff member). There is even a term for this type of scam “Social Engineering Attacks”. We can explain what they are, what to look out for and how to avoid them.

Finally, with all training services offered by MacMason, we understand that not everyone is computer savvy, so our classes are geared for diverse computer literacy levels and are all in plain English, not “computer Geek”.

If you want to be contacted about any of our services, just fill out this handy form. We keep all client information strictly private.

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