The U.S. Federal Trade Commission (FTC) has published a data spotlight outlining the most common text message scams. Phony bank fraud prevention alerts
were the most common type of text scam last year. “Reports about texts
impersonating banks are up nearly tenfold since 2019 with median reported
individual losses of $3,000 last year,” the reports says.
Below are the top five text scams reported by the FTC:
- Copycat bank fraud prevention alerts.
- Bogus “gifts” that can cost you.
- Fake package delivery problems.
- Phony job offers.
- Not-really-from-Amazon security alerts.
Phony bank fraud prevention alerts were the most common type of text scam last year.
“People get a text supposedly from a bank asking them to call a number ASAP about suspicious activity or to reply YES or NO to verify whether a transaction was authorized. If they reply, they’ll get a call from a phony “fraud department” claiming they want to “help get your money back.” What they really want to do is make unauthorized transfers. What’s more, they may ask for personal information like Social Security numbers, setting people up for possible identity theft.”
Fake gift card offers took second place, followed by phony package delivery problems.
“Scammers understand how our shopping habits have changed and have updated their sleazy tactics accordingly,” the FTC says. “People may get a text pretending to be from the U.S. Postal Service, FedEx, or UPS claiming there’s a problem with a delivery. The text links to a convincing-looking – but utterly bogus – website that asks for a credit card number to cover a small ‘redelivery fee.’”
Scammers also target job seekers with bogus job offers in an attempt to steal their money and personal information.
“With workplaces in transition, some scammers are using texts to perpetrate old-school forms of fraud – for example, fake ‘mystery shopper’ jobs or bogus money-making offers for driving around with cars wrapped in ads,” the report says. “Other texts target people who post their resumes on employment websites. They claim to offer jobs and even send job seekers checks, usually with instructions to send some of the money to a different address for materials, training, or the like. By the time the check bounces, the person’s money – and the phony ‘employer’ – are long gone.”
Finally, scammers impersonate Amazon and send fake security alerts to trick victims into sending money.
“People may get what looks like a message from ‘Amazon,’ asking to verify a big-ticket order they didn’t place,” the FTC says. “Concerned about the security of their account, people call the number in the text and are connected to a phony Amazon rep who offers to ‘fix’ their account. But oopsie! Several zeroes are mistakenly added to the ‘refund’ and the ‘operator’ needs the caller to return the overpayment, often in the form of gift card PIN numbers.”
New-school security awareness training can give your employees a healthy sense of suspicion so they can avoid falling for these types of scams.