If it seems like you’re receiving more spam text messages than ever before, it’s probably because you are — even if you have a solid spam filter on your phone. Spam texts are on the rise, by some accounts up more than 1,000% since spring of 2021.
That’s significant. And certainly a noticeable trend, even to someone who isn’t in the IT industry.
Text-em-all, a mass messaging service used by organizations to deliver legitimate messages, recently corralled spam texting statistics. Here’s what they found.
- An average of 376,032,773 spam texts are sent each day.
- More spam texts are sent on the weekends, at an average of 555,467,785.
- Texas residents, by far and away, received the highest amount of spam texts in 2021.
- In one month alone, the volume of spam texts increased by 28% from March to April of 2022.
- The most common text scams include deliveries, COVID-19, banks, Apple, sweepstakes and healthcare.
Spam texts, which may include some type of scam, are also costly. Reports indicate Americans lost an estimated $10 billion in 2021 due to spam texts. Most people who respond to the scheme, according to data from Text-em-all, lose around $500.
So, what should you do when you receive a spam text? Does typing “STOP” really work, as the messages suggest? Here are a few tips.
- Don’t reply. Even if the message suggests that you reply “STOP” if you don’t want to receive messages, that reply actually confirms to the sender that the number is valid and you, as a person, are real. So, typing “STOP” to spam is useless and likely detrimental.
- Confirm legitimacy. Don’t send any personal information in response to a text message, even if it sounds legitimate — like from your bank or credit card or the IRS. Spam texts are designed to instill a sense of urgency and panic in the recipient, so instead of replying with personal information, call the institution that allegedly sent the text directly to confirm its legitimacy.
- Stay away from clickable links. The sender of a spam text is phishing for information and hoping you either provide it straight away or click an embedded link, which could unleash malware or direct you to a fake website that asks for personal information. To avoid all of it, just don’t click any links.
- Report it. Most phones will allow the user to report a text as spam, so that’s a first step. Once you do that, you should forward the message to 7726, which spells SPAM. Just copy the message and text it to that number, which is a coordinated spam reporting service supported by all major cell carriers. And finally, report it to the Federal Trade Commission at reportfraud.ftc.gov.
We’re all pretty quick to respond to text messages, which is why scammers are using them to lure unassuming users into malicious and costly traps. If it sounds fishy, it probably is, and with any luck these tips will keep you out of harm’s way.
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