You go about your day, your phone buzzes, you look down and see what looks like an innocent text. But beware – that message could be from an enterprising scammer trying to steal your hard-earned cash.
Financial text scams are on the rise, with criminals using SMS messages to trick unsuspecting people into giving up valuable personal information or making payments into fraudulent accounts.
Don’t let them swindle you! Here are 10 of the most common money-stealing text scams so you can spot them right away.
1. “Your Bill is Past Due” Scam
This sneaky text will claim you missed a payment on a utility bill, a loan, or other regular bill. They include convincing logos and formats that look legit. The message urges you to click a link to settle up right away before you get cut off or sent to collections.
However, that link directs you to spoof sites to harvest your data or download malware. Often, they don’t even have your name right! Any “urgent” texts about unpaid bills from unfamiliar numbers should raise red flags.
2. Bank Security Alert Scam
Did you get a text supposedly from your bank asking you to verify recent account activity? Maybe it warns that your debit card was compromised and urges you to call a provided number to resolve this urgent issue.
If so, delete it! Real banks don’t operate this way. These texts aim to panic you into confirming personal information so scammers can access your money or steal your identity.
No matter how official it looks, don’t call or click on links. Log into your real bank account app/site directly if you have any concerns.
3. Social Security Scam
Scary messages from cybercriminals may claim your Social Security number is linked to criminal activity or has been revoked. They’ll typically say the issue is extremely time sensitive and include a customer service number or website link to clear up the matter.
Whether they threaten you with arrest or say your benefits are on the line, ignore these sham alerts. Social Security reps will never text or call to warn of SSN trouble or suspended accounts.
If anything seems suspicious with your number, hang up and contact them directly through official channels.
4. Coupon Scams
Everyone loves a bargain, and scammers exploit that with fake mobile coupon offers. The texts typically say major retailers like Target or Amazon tried to deliver deals to you, but the links bounced back.
By including the links again, they urge you to claim the vouchers right away before they expire. Too good to be true? Yes!
These texts are only phishing attempts that install dangerous malware if clicked or lead to spoof sites stealing your data. No legitimate merchant would contact you this way. Delete immediately.
5. Refund Scams
Did a random text inform you of refund money waiting from a company you don’t recognize? Maybe it gives a believable backstory, like the payment is from canceled subscription fees or an overpayment on previous work.
Don’t buy it! SMS messages about mysterious outstanding refunds you need to claim are ploys to steal financial or personal information. Even if the details seem semi-plausible, real businesses don’t initiate contact this way.
Delete the message and contact them through official channels if you think it’s a genuine unpaid refund.
Related: The top text scams of 2022
6. Shipping Notification Scams
Perhaps you got a text supposedly from DHL, FedEx, or other delivery companies with updates about packages coming your way.
Only you likely aren’t waiting on anything. These fake shipping notices embed malicious links to harvest your data, often through spoofed versions of legitimate sites.
They may specifically ask you to put in shipping preferences, addresses, phone numbers, etc. to “coordinate” delivery. By playing on our collective expectation of real-time updates, they trick users into inputting useful info.
7. Text Verification Code Scams
Most of us get occasional texts from services delivering login verification codes. Scammers leverage this fact by sending messages asking you to click to confirm your verification code.
They often pretend there’s an issue with automatic syncing. However, it’s really a scam to access your accounts! Never give out these one-time passcodes from texts unless you specifically requested that login code yourself.
Confirm directly with the site/app if something seems off, but don’t reply to the text itself.
8. Fake Promotions
Who can ignore texts promising you exclusive access to hot concert tickets from Ticketmaster? What about alerts you won free gift cards from Starbucks? Too bad it’s criminals lying to access your money and data!
Whether posing as stores, artists, or random giveaways, they aim to steal your personal information through bogus promotions.
Remember, legitimate businesses don’t operate through unsolicited SMS messages. Verify directly with the source if you have any doubts about offers received via text.
9. Requests for Sensitive Information
You may get a text from an unknown number asking for personal information like passwords, SSNs, account details, etc. Often these scammers pretend there’s some kind of account security breach that requires confirming this info.
For example, they could claim your bank account, email, or similar account was compromised. Whether they threaten to suspend access or warn your assets are at risk, don’t reply at all.
No legitimate entities will ever request sensitive data through unsolicited SMS messages.
10. Donation Requests
Texts begging for disaster relief aid, medical donations, or other charitable causes aim right for your heartstrings. How could you ignore desperate pleas for help? Well, as tough as it is, note that scammers have no qualms leveraging sympathy to manipulate innocent people.
They don’t care if it’s a devastating earthquake or a sick child needing surgery. Fraudsters set up sham charities to route payments right into their pockets.
Only donate via trusted sources and never in response to random texts, no matter how miserable the story sounds. Verify an organization’s legitimacy before you even consider contributing.
Key Bottom Note
Scammers rely on texts to perpetrate fraud because they know we view our phones as safe zones. We’re also more likely to let our guard down with messages that look routine. Don’t let them trip you up!
Be vigilant about texts from unfamiliar numbers asking for money, data or urgent action. When in doubt, confirm directly with the source. Follow these tips and you can keep your cash safe from SMS scams!