Getting random text messages from unknown senders? Are they claiming there's an issue with a bank account?
Bruce McGee has. He checked his phone the other day to discover a worrisome message.
"It was a text that said my Bosch dishwasher would be charged to my account. But I didn't order a dishwasher," McGee said.
The text claimed he had purchased a $1,500 dishwasher. He thought it might be a scam, but opened the text anyway.
"I had to open it because it specifically mentioned an item, and I wanted to make sure it wasn't erroneous," McGee said.
He decided to reach out to see if other people were receiving similar texts. But it wouldn't be the last strange text message he would receive.
"As I was composing my email to you, I received another email from a bank with whom I do not do business," McGee said.
"Due to an unusual transaction, we have blocked your debit card," the message read.
It turns out both messages were scams, aiming to steal his money and bank login information.
Warning signs a text message is a scam
"Know that the scammers do not discriminate and that they will send this to anybody, and anybody that will respond," said Sarah Wetzel of the Better Business Bureau.
Wetzel says scammers are using text messages to impersonate banks, businesses like Amazon and government agencies like the IRS to lure consumers into giving up personal identifying information to steal their identity or their hard-earned money.
She says there are some ways consumers can protect themselves.
- Check for grammatical errors or a phrase that doesn't make sense, indicating the message may have been composed by someone in a foreign country.
- Do some research. Look up the number online and see if it is really a bank or legitimate business.
- Never click on a link from an unknown number.
"Block that number and just erase a text message like you never received it, because sometimes they may even lure you by saying 'reply stop' or 'no to stop' future text messages," Wetzel said.
Wetzel says replies inform the scammer that the phone number is active.
"Just let that text message go, and when in doubt, throw it out," she said.
That way, you don't waste your money.
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