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Here’s How to Spot a Phishing Text Message

Last year the Better Business Bureau (BBB) added 47,567 different scams to their tracker. Learn how to spot them with ease.

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The laws around text marketing are strict. As a reputable SMS software company, we take preventative measures to keep spam out of your inbox.

Unfortunately, savvy pirate programmers around the globe have found ways to send phishing text messages to defraud vulnerable folks. 

And just when you think it could never happen to you, think again. At least 68% of people have reported receiving text message spam at least once. 

Thankfully, these scams are not the norm thanks to the tight industry regulations. So the threat of receiving one of the messages shouldn’t discourage you from sharing your number with your favorite brands and businesses. 

But to ensure you’re prepared, we’ll share the hallmark signs of a phishing scam and exactly what you can do to keep your information safe. 

What Is a Phishing Text Message?

A phishing or scam message is a text sent with the intent to trick you into sharing your personal or financial information.

A successful text scam would result in sharing something like your private passwords or account/social security numbers. From there, things like your email, bank, and other personal accounts can be compromised. 

The scammers who send these messages may attempt to chat with you directly. Asking you to share personal information to unlock an account or win a prize. Another approach includes sending a mass message with a link to a spoofed website. Any information you enter via that link can then be compromised and stolen. 

The most severe phishing scams can download dangerous malware onto your phone that mines your data without your knowledge.

Thankfully, you can take your own protective measures.

How Do You Spot a Phishing Text Message?

All of this sounds extremely scary, but there’s a silver lining. As long as these messages are deleted, your information won’t be compromised. All you need to do is spot the signs of a scam before you click or reply. 

To begin, we’ll start with one crucial piece of information. Any business, legitimate or fraudulent, can not send you a text message if you haven’t given your express permission to receive them. 

So if you ever receive a message that has no signs of fraud but is not something you subscribed to, you can always report it and reply with STOP to end the messages. But more on that in the next section. 

To identify a fraudulent text off the cuff, there are a few things you should look out for:

  • Promises of free prizes and cash 
  • Offers for credit cards or loans. (Especially low-interest ones.) These are illegal to send even if they’re from a reputable financial company. 
  • Government-related rebates
  • Fake invoices
  • Random links to complete a payment 
  • Alerts regarding suspicious account activity that ask you to confirm or share personal information
  • Package delivery alerts that ask you to set preferences

These messages are always going to be fraudulent (or should not be trusted) as they’re content areas prohibited by law to send.

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What Do You Do If You Receive a Phishing Text Message?

There are plenty of resources for text-related issues. And we highly encourage anyone who receives text spam to report it to the proper authorities.

But there are a few things you should do first to make sure your information is protected. 

  1. Slow down: Oftentimes, acting too quickly when you receive phishing text messages can result in an error. The scammers want you to feel confused and rushed. So remember to slow down and don’t fall into the trap of providing an immediate response.
  1. Don’t click: Never ever (ever) click on an in-message link if you suspect it’s spam.
  1. Delete the message: Don’t risk accidentally replying to or saving that content on your phone. If you are reporting the message, feel free to take a screenshot for posterity. But then delete it.
  1. Report the spam: You can report any suspected text spam directly to your carrier or the FTC through their complaint assistant.

Information is power, and with it, you have what you need to fight phishing. 

If you want to expand your knowledge and you’re interested in learning more about text message regulations, feel free to explore our SMS compliance guide. It explains the far more common, legal world of text marketing.

Meghan Tocci
Meghan Tocci

Meghan Tocci is a content strategist at SimpleTexting. When she’s not writing about SaaS, she’s trying to teach her puppy Lou how to code. So far, not so good.

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