Written by Bernie Carr
There have been more and more scam pitches circulating, I thought I’d share a few new ones I’ve come across so you can watch out for them.
The last couple of weeks I have been receiving texts that say, “Free message: Your bill has been paid for the month. Here’s a gift for you.” The message has a link. I didn’t click on the link as I am always suspicious of “free gifts.” I reported the message as a scam. I already have a spam blocker on my phone and I make it a point to report them but they just come up with new numbers to use.
It turns out this scam has been going around. Mobile phone text scams are on the rise.
Only recently has mobile phone fraud shifted more toward texting, experts said. Spam texts from all sorts of phone numbers — and not just your own — are on the rise. In March, 11.6 billion scam messages were sent on American wireless networks, up 30 percent from February. That outpaced robocalls, which rose 20 percent in the same period, according to an analysis by Teltech, which makes anti-spam tools for phones.Source: The New York Times
Do not reply to these texts or click any links. Your phone may get infected with malware. If you even type “STOP” the scammer will know there is a live person responding and will keep trying. Block the number on your phone.
My cousin receive a bill in the mail that he owed money for taxes at a state where he previously resided. The statement looked very professional and had the same fonts and style used by the state’s official notices. But when he looked more closely at it, he noticed some errors. In another version of the scam the bill looks like it’s from the IRS.
These schemes can involve text message scams, e-mail schemes and phone scams. This tax season, the IRS also warns people to watch out for signs of potential unemployment fraud.
“With filing season underway, this is a prime period for identity thieves to hit people with realistic-looking emails and texts about their tax returns and refunds,” said IRS Commissioner Chuck Rettig. “Watching out for these common scams can keep people from becoming victims of identity theft and protect their sensitive personal information that can be used to file tax returns and steal refunds.”SOURCE: Internal Revenue Service
Phone call scam
This is the trickiest one yet. We all know the security or fraud prevention department of your bank occasionally calls to check on a purchase. In this case, the scammer calls using a phony number that looks like it’s coming from your bank. It might even match the phone number in your card. The scammer says they are from the fraud prevention hotline then asks for identifying information such as a card number, PIN, or social security to verify that it’s you.
If you get one of these calls, hang up and make a call to your bank yourself. Let them know you got a call about fraudulent activity and see if someone really called you.
“If you EVER have someone CALL YOU and say they are your bank, do NOT provide any information like that over the phone on an INBOUND CALL,” he wrote. “Tell them you need to call them back & make sure you are dialing the number on the back of your card NOT a # they give you”.Source: Newsweek
The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) offers the following advice:
- Do not respond to texts from unknown numbers.
- Never share sensitive personal or financial information by text.
- Think twice before clicking any links in a text message. If a friend sends you a text with a suspicious link that seems out of character, call them to make sure they weren’t hacked.
- If a business sends you a text that you weren’t expecting, call them to verify its authenticity using the number on your bill or statement, or look up their number online.
- Remember that government agencies almost never initiate contact by phone or text.
- Report texting scam attempts to your wireless service provider by forwarding unwanted texts to 7726 (or “SPAM”).
- File a complaint with the FCC.
- If you think you’re the victim of a texting scam, report it immediately to your local law enforcement agency and notify your wireless service provider and financial institutions where you have accounts.
These criminals are getting more and more sophisticated. Stay vigilant!
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Bernie Carr is the founder of Apartment Prepper. She has written several books including the best-selling Prepper’s Pocket Guide, Jake and Miller’s Big Adventure, The Penny-Pinching Prepper and How to Prepare for Most Emergencies on a $50 a Month Budget. Bernie’s latest e-book, FRUGAL DIY has just been released on Amazon. Her work appears in sites such as the Allstate Blog and Clark.com, as well as print magazines such as Backwoods Survival Guide and Prepper Survival Guide. She has been featured in national publications such as Fox Business and Popular Mechanics. Learn more about Bernie here.
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