If it seems like you’re getting more scam texts than ever before, it’s because you probably are. New research shows that scammers are increasingly reaching out via text. And it’s working: Fraud losses from scams that started with a text message are tracking way up. If you get a text from an unknown number, the best bet is to delete the message and move on.
Next time you get a text from an unknown number, think twice before responding.
Research shows that rates of scam texts are skyrocketing. According to the Federal Trade Commission (FTC), reports about texts impersonating banks are up nearly twentyfold since 2019.
And that same FTC data shows that Americans lost at least $330 million to fraud that began over text in 2022. That’s more than double the amount lost to scam texts the previous year.
It’s no surprise that scammers are increasingly turning to text messaging. It’s a convenient way to reach a lot of people quickly.
Virtually every American adult owns a smartphone and nearly every one can receive text messages. Plus, open rates for text messages are reported to be as high as 98 percent.
Given this, it’s important to understand the basic strategies scammers use in text messages like posing as a legitimate business, government agency, or even a trusted friend in a text message. Or, they may spoof their number to make it seem like their message is coming from your own phone number to get your attention.
These are the five common types of scam texts:
“You have a package out for delivery.” Have you ever gotten a USPS scam text? In this scheme, a fraudster texts to say you have a package en route. They often share a legitimate-looking link and ask you to enter payment information to cover “shipping costs” or related fees — but it’s really a trick to get your credit card number or bank account information.
“You’ve won a prize!” In this scenario, also known as a lottery scam, victims are directed to click a malicious link to claim their winnings. The site may contain malware or may be designed to capture your personal information.
“Your account needs updating.” Fraudsters contact you posing as a bank, healthcare organization, service provider (like a wireless network), a government entity, or claim to be an Amazon rep with an alert about your account. Either way, their aim is to gain access to your personal or financial information.
“I’m in trouble — can you help?” Relational scams, in which a texter pretends to be a family member or friend in trouble, are also widespread. In this case, scammers might manipulate your emotions and pressure you into giving away your money or personal information.
“Earn some easy money.” Beware of too-good-to-be-true job opportunities, where scammers recruit you via text by offering a passive income gig, such as displaying an ad on your car in exchange for a monthly payment. The scammer then sends you a real check and then asks you to cash it and redistribute some of the funds to other parties — such as an “installation team.” The original check bounces, and you’re out whatever you paid into the scam.
Telling a real text from a fake
With more businesses also using text to communicate with their customers, it can also be helpful to know how to differentiate a real marketing message from a scam.
Commercial messages are typically sent from 4-, 5- or 6-digit numbers. Scammers most often use 10- or 11-digital numbers.
Companies need your consent to reach out via text. If you receive a text that claims to be from a legitimate business but you haven’t given consent, it might be fraudulent. Also, businesses are required to include key verbiage in their initial correspondence, including the option to “opt out” of messaging and a notice that data rates may apply.
Government entities, banks, and healthcare providers will rarely reach out via text about an invoice or account problem. They generally relay that type of information by direct mail.
Approach any unsolicited text message with caution: Never click a link or download a file you receive from an unknown number.
If you suspect that a text is a scam, resist the urge to reply — even with the word “stop” or “unsubscribe” — as doing so may tag your number as active, prompting the scammer to double down on their efforts.
Activate Robocall Blocker
Automatically filter out unwanted calls and texts, making it harder for scammers to reach you, by turning on Robocall Blocker that’s included with your plan.
Get started today by:
Logging in to your Allstate Identity Protection account from your phone
Clicking on the Robocall Blocker tab
Following the step-by-step instructions to stop unwanted calls and texts
Reporting scam texts
If you want to take additional action to help others avoid fraud, you can forward unwanted texts to 7726 (SPAM), which alerts your service provider. This can help reduce the risk that others will be targeted.
Then, delete the text and move on.
If you or someone you love should fall victim to fraud that’s initiated through a text message or any other means, we’re here for you. Our U.S.-based identity specialists are trained to help if fraud occurs.