TAMPA, Fla. (WFLA) — The evolution of technology has led to a variety of new ways to find information, including the private information you hold most securely. However, with new technology and fast development, sometimes even a simple message can bring harm.
Text messages are becoming a source of scams and a tool for harmful actors. The Federal Communications Commission has begun alerting Americans about the “rising threat” of spam and robotexts. According to the FCC, “reports by non-government robocall and robotext blocking services, and anecdotal and news reporting make it clear that text messages are increasingly being used by scammers to target American consumers.”
The FCC’s July warning to residents said the motivations for scammers aren’t always the same. Sometimes they’re trying to get your personal information, other times they want to take your money. The FCC said other times the scammer wants to make sure your phone number is active to use in a scam at a later date.
The federal government provides a list of warning signs for scam messages, also called smishing.
- Unknown numbers
- Misleading information
- Misspellings to avoid blocking/filtering tools
- 10-digit or longer phone numbers
- Mysterious links
- Sales pitches
- Incomplete information
If you do get a message that might be suspicious, even ones that say you can text STOP to end the communications, the FCC says to not respond, and block any messages that come in, and the related phone numbers or emails.
Additionally, FCC provides these tips to protect yourself and your private information.
- Do not click on any links.
- Do not provide any information via text or website.
- File a complaint.
- Forward unwanted texts to SPAM (7726).
- Delete all suspicious texts.
- Update your smart device OS and security apps.
- Consider installing anti-malware software.
- Review companies’ policies regarding opting out of text alerts and selling/sharing your information.
- Review text blocking tools in your mobile phone settings, available third-party apps, and your mobile phone carrier’s offerings
The Federal Trade Commission also warns Americans to be careful online and on their phones, providing a guide to recognizing and reporting spam text messages. One strategy the FTC warns about is when a scammer uses a text message to put software on your phone.
“Other messages may install harmful malware on your phone that steals your personal information without you realizing it,” FTC said. The agency warns that if you get a message you weren’t expecting, and it asks for personal information, don’t click any links, and don’t respond, instead block the messenger.
In another post from January, the FTC described what’s known as a zero-click exploit as a threat to phone users, and told tech companies to fix “Log4j security vulnerabilities.” The exploit allows scammers and other bad actors to use a code package, called Log4j, to access phones and install malware without ever engaging with the users.
The Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency, a federal cybersecurity agency, provides guidance online to patch the security flaw.