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, find out what to do and how to report it. 

The 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 the 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 as 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 striking rise in text scams, it’s important to understand the strategies scammers use.

Five common types of text scams

Over text, scammers often pose as a legitimate business, government agency, or even a trusted friend. They may even spoof their number to make it seem like their message is coming from your own phone number to get your attention.

Knowing these common types of scam texts will help you stay a step ahead:  

  • “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 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 prize winnings. The site usually contains malware or is 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 aim to 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. 

How to identify scam texts

With more businesses also using text to communicate with their customers, it’s  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 phone 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. Businesses are required to include key verbiage in their initial correspondence including the ability 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.  

Quick Guide

Activate our Robocall Blocker

With our Robocall Blocker feature, Allstate Identity Protection members can automatically filter unwanted calls and texts, making it harder for scammers to reach you.

Get started today by logging in to your account and checking if our Robocall blocker is included in your identity theft protection plan.

From there, click on the Robocall Blocker tab and follow the step-by-step instructions.  

Reporting scam text messages 

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 helping 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 identity fraud that’s initiated through a text message or any other means, we’re here for you. Our U.S.-based specialists are trained to help if identity fraud occurs.