Tips to Spot and Avoid Text Scams

Key Points

  • Text fraud went up by 700% in the first half of 2021
  • In 2021 Americans lost over $10 billion to scam texts
  • If you get a text from your bank, there are 99.99% chances that it is from fraudsters
  • Scammers keep improving their smishing skills to sound and appear like your bank
  • Smishing is easy to spot and prevent

EarthWeb reports that scam texts increased by 700% in 2021. Similar reports reveal that by the end of that year, Americans had lost around $10 billion to scammers posing as banks, IRS, or other government organizations.

The cyber crooks send texts asking for personal information like pin numbers, full names, email addresses, social security numbers, and other sensitive information — something your bank will never text you.

Our IT specialists at OnPar Technologies have explained how to spot and avoid cyber crooks using texts to scam you or your business. OnPar has helped small to large companies tackle various IT challenges.

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How to Spot Spam Texts From Fraudsters Posing as your Bank

Scam artists have become so sophisticated that anyone, even the most learned person, can easily fall into their trap. Their texts look convincing, and they might even direct you to a website that looks like that of your bank. Nonetheless, phishing texts have some elements that can help you know it is fraud right away.

#1: The Texts Ask for Personal Information

A fraudster’s text always asks for personal information like a pin number, ATM number, official name, secret words, social security number, and other sensitive information. Your bank will never text you to provide such sensitive information.

In most cases, the text does not directly ask for personal information. Instead, it directs you to a phishing website that asks for the information under the guise of helping you recover your account.

#2: The Texts Have an Extreme Sense of Urgency or a Fear Factor

Texts from fraudsters often force you to take action within a set time frame or face a consequence. For instance, they ask you to update your information through a link provided or get your account terminated,

Scam artists mount the pressure as they understand that authorities could pull down their phishing site or terminate their phone number anytime. The scam artists know they must execute their mission quickly before losing the phone number or site.

Fraudsters’ texts often force you to take action quickly to prevent you from giving the text a second thought.

#3: The text asks you to Update Your Banking App by Clicking a Link

Other times, a fraudster’s text requests you to update your banking app by clicking a phishing link attached to a text. While the link might seem harmless, clicking it gives the scammers access to everything stored in your phone. They could access your pin, social security number, identification documents, verification codes, email address, and other information that helps them withdraw, send, or purchase through your bank account.

#4: The Text Does Not Address you By name

Often, scam artists send a generic text to several people, a reason why such texts miss essential things like your name. The scammers also omit your name since they lack your details. Therefore, unlike banks who address you by name, fraudsters’ texts address you by the general salutation — dear client.

Actions to Take When you Receive a Text From Fraudsters

When you receive a text, but you are not sure if it is genuinely spam, do not act on impulse. Handle the situations with clarity of mind, lest you join the list of people and businesses losing millions of dollars yearly.

So, what should you do when you receive a fraudulent text claiming that someone has just withdrawn funds from your account or that you need to update your outdated banking app to receive better services?

#1: Verify the Issue with your Bank

Whenever you receive a suspicious text, contact your bank’s support through their correct phone number or official social media platforms. The contacts are readily available on the bank’s official website, statement, or ATM card.

If you choose to contact your bank through social media, make sure the bank’s social accounts have a blue checkmark symbol alongside the bank’s name. Avoid pages without the checkmark since they could be owned by the same fraudsters you are trying to avoid.

#2: Avoid Clicking on the Links

With the sophistication of fraud, scam artists send phishing links that give them access to your phone’s content by simply clicking a link.

The scammers can also attach links to a website that looks like your bank. Upon clicking, the site prompts you to provide your password, account number, social security number, or other sensitive data.

Therefore, do not rush to open links simply because they look harmless or genuine. After all, your bank will never text you with a link to a website.

#3: Do Not Reply to Fraud Texts

Other fraudulent texts ask you to reply with a NO, STOP, or some numbers to help your ‘bank’ stop the ‘fraudulent’ activity happening in your account. By replying to such texts, the scam artists confirm that your number is in use and that you are a vulnerable target. They use it to plan an attack when you are least prepared.

What to Do if You Clicked on Suspicious Links or Revealed Sensitive Information

Sometimes, you may realize that you are dealing with fraudsters after disclosing much of the personal information needed to access your bank account or clicking the spammy links they sent.

Use the following actions to protect your account or hold the fraudsters culpable when that happens.

#1: Change Your Passwords Immediately

Since fraudsters use your password to withdraw, send, or authorize payments, change the passwords when you realize that you gave out your information or clicked spammy sites. That way, you lock out the spammers from accessing your account.

#2: Freeze Your Account

Some banks have an option to freeze your account through the app or online platform. So, head to your app and freeze your account immediately when you innocently reveal your sensitive information. You could be lucky to redeem your savings before the scam artists get hold of them.

#3: Contact Your Bank

Once you detect fraud, inform your bank for further action. The banks could refund the stolen amount, follow up on the matter, or put an extra layer of protection to prevent the fraudsters from emptying your account.

#4: Report to the Police

Like any other form of fraud, ensure you file a police report when you get swindled. The action opens an investigation into your issue and serves as evidence to hold suspects culpable. You could get compensation if the authorities get the fraudsters.

Let OnPar Enhance Your Security

Scammers always look for ways to drain your bank or harm your business. Fortunately, you can avoid them by treating every text as spam — your bank will never text you. If you wish to safeguard your business from fraudulent activity completely, our experts at OnPar Technologies will help. Contact us today to learn how to enhance your security.