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How to Identify a Fake Text Message Within Seconds

By Samuetta Hill Drew

Scams using text messages are referred to as “smishing,” while scam emails are known as “phishing.” As Shakespeare writes “what’s in a name” because by any other name the goal is still the same – to either steal your money or your identity.

Many users are aware of the dangers of responding to suspicious emails, but they are somewhat clueless when it comes to text messages. As a result, 21 percent of all fraud cases start with a text message, with most unassuming victims losing an average of $900, according to the Federal Trade Commission (FTC).

The focus in this week’s safety article is to help you spot a fake text message (smishing) in mere seconds. We want you to be aware of the red flags to look for whenever you receive a strange text or message on a messaging app such as Telegram or Whatsapp.

Below are those red flags warning signs:

  • The text message is unsolicited (scammers will always contact you out of the blue).
  • The text sender has a long telephone number (10 or 11 digits).
  • The telephone number is “spoofed” (i.e., it looks like it’s coming from someone you know or trust).
  • The text includes a link that is most likely shortened or scrambled.
  • The text is written with a sense of urgency (such as claiming you owe money to the IRS or that you have been charged a subscription payment you never signed up for).
  • The text contains strange grammar or spelling mistakes.
  • The text promises a reward or prize if you respond or click a link.
  • The text claims to be from a colleague, family member, or friend but does not sound like them.
  • The sender asks you to call them back.
  • The text contains requests for refunds for supposed overcharged services.

It pays to always be cautious if you receive a message showing one or more of these red flags. These are clear warning signs. It is also important you resist the urge to engage with them no matter how curious you may be. Your goal is to Keep an Eye on Safety.