If you ever get a text message from someone you do not know, never respond or click on the link! Scammers are always on the lookout for new ways to get your personal data and your hard-earned money.
With the current Covid-19 crisis instilling fear in all of us, scammers are taking advantage of this situation masking as government agencies and well-known brands to send out fraudulent text messages to unsuspected people asking them for personal information, money for test kits, offering financial support in exchange for bank account information, and other phony offers.
One example (shown below) of these fraudulent messages notifies people that they have been in contact with someone who tested positive for Covid-19 and displays a link. When the link is clicked, it can potentially download a virus on their smartphones that provide scammers access to sensitive information, including personal contacts and even financial information.
Other fraud messages include promising financial support in addition to the government stimulus funds, fake Covid-19 home test kits, as well as bogus offers from scammers masking as large companies like Costco giving away money as shown in the example below from FBI San Diego’s Twitter account.
How to Avoid Text Message Scams
Because scammers do not actually have any customers, they try to compile or build their own phone number lists using their own algorithms, so there is a chance that you may have received a similar message.
If you receive a call or text message from a number you do not recognize, even if it shows that it is coming from a government agency or large brand, follow these guidelines:
- Do not respond to the text message or call. Government agencies or companies will never ask you for personal information over the phone or text.
- Never click on any link that is in the text message. This may download malware that can access the information on your phone.
- If you want to verify the sender, enter the phone number in Google to see the owner and origin. Or you can contact the “sender” from their official website or social media account to verify the message.
- Do not accept any offers for free Covid-19 prevention or treatment from an untrusted source.
- Block the phone number on your phone so you do not get the message from that number again. You may need to do this several times as scammers will sometimes use multiple numbers.
- File a complaint with the FCC (Click here to file a complaint).
What TrueDialog is Doing to Prevent Text Message Scammers
Text message scammers will often either build their own software to send text messages or utilize a texting provider. However, we at TrueDialog put security first for our customers and are always improving our safety measures to block scammers from creating accounts to send fraudulent messages.
Using proprietary software, the TrueDialog system can identify and block potential phishers, bots, spammers, fraudsters, and high-risk users for our text messaging service based on several factors. This includes email authenticity, domain history, past scam and spam history, location, and suspicious activity patterns including previous incidents.
These security measures provide many obstacles scammers have to overcome before they are able to create an account in TrueDialog. TrueDialog goes through additional screening processes once an account is created should one make it through our initial line of defense. We have identified and blocked hundreds of suspicious accounts from being opened since the current crisis has escalated, and thousands over the past 12 months. We will continue to improve these security standards to protect US consumers from getting scammed.
Text messaging is an important channel for legitimate businesses to connect with their customers and employees. Our goal at TrueDialog is to keep the integrity and purity of text messaging so everyone can benefit from the experience.