How to Identify and Avoid SMS Scams

alex-alabiso.jpg  CTO at Sprout Solutions

  WWS contributor


How to Identify and Avoid SMS Scams

It is an unfortunate fact that potential scammers and malicious persons exist across all communication mediums. With texts boasting a 98% open rate and about 92% of text spam messages being classified as scams or frauds, anyone could fall victim to these kinds of schemes.

SMS scams are prone to popping up during times of calamity or crises, taking advantage of vulnerable people during uncertain circumstances. The best way to prevent SMS scams is to learn how to spot its first signs and familiarize yourself with the many ways scammers can try to steal information or defraud victims. 


What are the types of SMS scams?


Some of the common types of SMS scams include spam SMS, phishing SMS, SMS originator spoofing, and SMS malware attacks. While spam SMS can be relatively harmless promotional material, others can contain more ill-natured content that aims to steal personal information.

Phishing SMS, SMS originator spoofing, and SMS malware attacks are more sophisticated. These scams try to trick victims into sharing sensitive information, if not, luring them into clicking malicious links that steal their data or make unauthorized payments. Scammers sending these texts often pose as legitimate corporations or institutions to lull victims into a false sense of security.

Other tactics of winning the victim’s trust over are pretending to be a relative or loved one in need. They also take advantage of less knowledgeable individuals by claiming their victims have won random prize draws. Worse, they may also pretend to be service providers offering refunds for a wrongly charged service or inquiring for additional personal details for an unfulfilled delivery.


What are the signs that you’re dealing with a scam?


Once you become aware of how scammers can trick you, the next step is to know the warning signs of a scam. Potential red flags include spelling or grammatical errors from supposedly legitimate institutions. For relatives and loved ones, scam messages may contain a different way of typing or speaking than the person they are posing as.

Receiving messages for packages you didn’t expect to receive, contests or prize draws you didn’t enter, or offers you didn’t subscribe to can also be an indication of a scam at play. Not all sources that claim to know your name and some personal details are trustworthy—they may have acquired this data elsewhere and need more information for malicious purposes.



What do you need to do after being scammed?


Shady and unidentified numbers should also be viewed with suspicion. When a shady SMS makes a claim on behalf of a company or institution, doing your research to confirm the legitimacy of their claims can prevent you from entertaining a potential scam.

Finally, if an SMS seems suspicious or too good to be true: do not engage with it, refrain from clicking any links within it and immediately block the number that sent it. Make sure to report incidents of scam SMS to your carrier or service provider to make them aware of impersonators and further spread awareness amongst their client base.

It can be challenging to protect yourself in a world where fraudsters use increasingly sophisticated methods to defraud you. By arming yourself with the knowledge of spotting red flags and good sense to protect your personal data, you can minimize your risk and stay safe across any platform.


Avoid SMS Scams - Infographic


To learn more on how to identify and avodi text message scam, check out this insightful infographic below:


Alex Alabiso built Semaphore's tech backbone and keeps it running smoothly. In his spare time, he grows hydroponic tomatoes and plays video games.