Email open rates typically range between 20 and 30 percent while SMS stands at a staggering 98 percent. 90 percent of texts are opened within three seconds of receipt. The average text is read within 90 seconds of receipt while that number is 90 minutes for email. This characteristically rapid response for text messages makes them a popular avenue for SMS scams and phishing – sometimes called “smishing”. Scams after all require that the target respond quickly before they have a change of heart or think their decision through.
The average text is read within 90 seconds of receipt. That metric is 90 minutes for email.
The speed and regularity of reading and responding to texts is why you should delete scam texts immediately. If they lie around your inbox too long, you could unintentionally click on the fraudulent link at some future date. Scam SMS comes in diverse forms. Knowing SMS scammers’ modus operandi is critical to avoiding falling victim. Check out these types of texts you should get rid of without hesitation.
1. A Friend’s Friend You’ve Never Heard Of
Scammers know they have a good shot at success if they can convince you that you are someone they may know and can trust. Since they cannot guess the origin and nature of your friendships, their best bet is to pose as someone referred to you by your friend or acquaintance. For the average adult, friends and acquaintances garnered through life can number in the hundreds or thousands.
So, if the scammer sent you a text message purporting to be a referral from your friend Melissa or Michael, chances are you have someone by that common name that you have at the minimum, a distant connection to. You would feel compelled to take a look and respond to the message to avoid embarrassing your friend or friend’s friend by stating you don’t remember them.
Now, this type of text could very well be genuine. But as with virtually all scam texts, if it includes a URL the sender wants you to click on, delete it immediately.
2. A Package You Were Not Aware Of
Who doesn’t love surprise gifts and just incoming packages in general? When we order something at online stores such as Amazon, there’s a palpable excitement as we anticipate its arrival. If you get a text message claiming you have a package waiting for you, it is tempting to click on the link to see the details, claim it and/or specify the destination. Yet, this is one of the most common SMS scams.
While the link could be a trigger for the download of malware to your phone, it is often a means of extracting confidential personal information from you via a fake webform. Armed with that data, the scammers can execute elaborate identity theft, empty your account, and max out your credit card.
3. Your Bank Account or Credit/Debit Card is On the Verge of Closure
Our bank accounts and credit/debit cards are a key driver of our everyday quality of life. You may be sent into a panic if you receive a text message claiming your bank account or card will be closed in case you do not urgently confirm your PIN, password, and other information. Often, there will be a narrow deadline such as the need to provide the information within hours of receipt.
Bank accounts and cards do get closed for various reasons. So, once again, this rides on a realistic scenario. Still, account closure is unlikely to happen with such urgency. There will be a lead time of at least weeks or months. To check if it’s a scam, call the bank directly on their official listed phone numbers (you can find these on their website’s Contact Us section), or on the back of the card. If it doesn’t check out, delete it promptly.
4. You’ve Won an Award You Did Not Know You Were in the Running For
This plays on the elation that accompanies an unexpected gift. But nothing comes that easy. Nearly all notable awards require that you formally and intentionally enter the contest before you are assessed against other participants. Few organizations would want to go through the painstaking process of identifying a winner only for the selected candidate to reject it.
What does this all mean? If you receive a text message about an award you’ve won, it’s likely scammers looking to cash in at your expense. Do not click on the link they ask you to even if it is apparently the only means to claim your award. Usually, these text messages download malware to your phone that would need removal.
These are some of the common types of scam texts but this is not an exhaustive list. Other types of scam SMS range from claims that your videos/photos have been posted somewhere, to inauthentic COVID-19 pandemic updates. Irrespective of the type of message, take a screenshot of the message for later review by an IT professional, then delete the message. Under no circumstances should you click the links, respond to the text or call the sender.
Think you have been a target of scam texts? Most people have. Contact us if you need assistance.