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Robert Longley

Text Message Scams: Don't Text Back

By August 23, 2013

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The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) is warning of a new identity theft scam that attacks you through text messages on smart-phones. While the scam is dangerous, the defense is simple, according to the FTC, "Don't text back."

The scarily convincing scam works like this: You get an unexpected text message informing you that your email account has been hacked into and deactivated "for your protection." The message will tell you to reply or "text back" in order to reactivate your account.

Here is an example of one of the scam texts:

User #25384: Your Gmail profile has been compromised. Text back SENDNOW in order to reactivate your account.

Don't do it, advises the FTC, warning that the messages are really trying to take advantage of security weaknesses in your smart-phone or other online devices in order to steal your personal information.

How to Handle This

Do not reply or text back to messages like that because, "Legitimate companies won't ask you to verify your identity through unsecure channels, like text or email, " warns the FTC.

Do not click on any links that might be included in the message. The links may install malware on your device and take you to spoofing or phishing websites that will try to get you to provide your personal information.

Do report the suspect message to your cell phone service carrier's spam/scam text reporting number. AT&T, T-Mobile, Verizon, Sprint and Bell customers can forward the text message free of charge to 7726 (SPAM).

Do File an online complaint with the FTC at https://econsumer.ftccomplaintassistant.gov/.

If your email account ever is really hacked, chances are you'll know it. But what can you do about it? The FTC offers a great article, "Hacked Email," that explains the telltale signs of a hacked email account and how to fix it safely.

Also See:
Big Debt Collector to Pay Big Fine
FTC Strengthens Kids' Online Privacy
Mobile Apps Failing to Protect Kids, FTC Says

Comments

October 1, 2013 at 10:23 am
(1) Bhpage says:

This is a TEXT/SMS SCAM we received today on our cell phone… I did report this to the FTC…

My wife received this text a few minutes ago (10/1/2013 at 9:45 am est) from a bank we are not associated with… I was curious and called (from a land line) the mobile number (484) 354-2119 after a minute of silence you get a recorded message saying that this is a TOLL call you have to pay to continue with the call…. NO REAL bank charges you to call them before you talk to them…

This is the text message: (PENN LIBERTY BANK) Your Card 424161 has been temporary BLOCK. Do to Our Security Updates. Please Call our 24hr Service line at 484-354-2119……

************ HERE IS THE PERSON WHO OWNS THIS PHONE NUMBER (Yes, I paid for the online report)********
Phone Results For (484) 354-2119
John Hopkins
Run Background Search
Owner Name: JOHN HOPKINS
Run Background Search
Address: 866 Durant Ct, West Chester, PA 19380
Phone Type: What Is This? MOBILE
Phone Issuing Location: What Is This? New Cingular Wireless PCS LLC – DC
WEST CHESTER, PA 19380

March 27, 2014 at 6:06 am
(2) Carla says:

On 27th March 2014 received two sms/text message from + 508742333853 (France?) saying to call 0023221340781 (Sierra Leone or South Africa?) now or lose a prize?

Then a 2nd text from 0023221301914 (routed via Sierra Leon) saying to call the same number or prize will be given to another person.. Interestingly the message was in the Spanish language!

Yea Of course I would love some unknowns to have access to my mobile phone data, contents etc DUH!!

REPORT THE NUMBERS PROTECT THE INNOCENT,

April 23, 2014 at 1:46 pm
(3) Cal says:

I got a text this morning from a Maria Sanches, Ph#: 575-519-5830 email address: sanchesmaria56@gmail.com – any Gmail account has a profile page, looking into this profile it does have any info and the gender states Male, not a female.

Here is the original email:
Good day my name is Maria Sanches Am hearing impaired i just bought a house in the city and i want the whole roof coated can you get ma an estimate for my roof?

Me: What is the address, and can you send me a picture or Facebook profile so I can verify you are not spam.

Me: I know you need the roof coated, I need an address to verify your are real.

5755195830: Okay i will send you the address are you the owner and do you take credit cards?

Me: Yes I am the owner and yes we do take credit cards. But because we are a legit company to verify you are who you say you are and not someone that spams, I need the address of the home, so i can calculate the square footage of the roof. Also can you send me a email address.

5755195830: Here is the address: 823 Lakimela Ln Apt B, Honolulu, HI 06817 i want the roof coated go thee do the estimate and email it to me my email address is sanchesmaria56@gmail.com. When can you come out and look at the roof?

Me: Look, I dont want to waste your time and dont want my time wasted either. If you are serious about this roofing job, you will have to send your full name, address where you are right now, some way to verify that you are you, a picture ID, the Realtor you purchased the home from.

5755195830: I will get someone else to do the work for me thanks have a great day.

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