Here’s how thieves can use your phone to steal from you

Here’s how thieves can use your phone to steal from you

Pay attention to your text messages. Scammers using text messages are on the rise and can use the holidays to trick you into giving up sensitive information.

AUSTIN, Texas — Thieves know you’re likely to read a text before answering an email … and instead answer an unknown number.

“Seven percent of all text messages are opened and 92% of those are opened within the first 30 minutes,” said George Cray, senior vice president of iconectiv.

Fraud prevention is part of iconectiv’s company focus. The company is the administrator for number portability in the USA

“If you’re looking for people who are actually engaging, a message is going to be a better way to reach them and probably have a better hit rate on what your scam is,” Cray said.

The Federal Communications Commission received more than 15,000 consumer complaints about unwanted text messages last year.

Cray said text scams can show a gift card or claim a delay in shipment.

“You may have delivery situations where you are suddenly expecting a package. The scammer doesn’t know it, but they’re sending out messages to hundreds of thousands of people, and some percentage of them are expecting a package that says, ‘Oh, there’s something wrong with the delivery, and you need to click on this link. ’ And if you get that and you just react and click on that link, who knows where it could take you or what it could expose you to,” Cray said.

The Federal Trade Commission warns on its website, “The real USPS will not contact you out of the blue about a delivery (unless you submitted a request first and provide a tracking number) — and they will never charge you to deliver a package on new.”

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In July, the FCC warned about the growing threat of scam bots, saying:

Texting scams – also known as “smishing” – sometimes use:

  • Unknown numbers
  • Misleading information
  • Spelling errors to avoid blocking/filtering tools
  • 10-digit or longer phone numbers
  • Mysterious links
  • Sales locations
  • Incomplete information

Cray said large companies typically rely on short codes that are five to six digits long.

“The five- and six-digit codes must be applied for. There is a process by which they were approved in order for them to be used by the brand. And then there’s also a vetting process and a monitoring process to make sure they’re being used legally and not being used as part of a scam, Cray said.

However, he said to always be careful.

“I’ll never say 100% because nothing is foolproof, but the five- and six-digit codes from, you know, these big brands are much more likely to be reliable,” Cray said.

The FCC website offers the following tips to protect yourself:

  • Do not respond to suspicious text messages, even if the message tells you to “STOP” to end messages.
  • Do not click on any links.
  • Do not provide information via text or website.
  • File a complaint.
  • Forward unwanted texts to SPAM (7726).
  • Delete all suspicious texts.
  • Update your smart device’s OS and security apps.
  • Consider installing anti-malware software.
  • Review company policies for opting out of text alerts and selling/sharing your information.
  • Review text blocking tools in your mobile phone settings, available third-party apps and mobile carrier offers.”
  • Think twice before clicking on links in a text message. If a friend sends you a text message 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 message you weren’t expecting, you can look up their number online and call them back.

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