Scam Message: These days, it seems like scammers are the ones who send us more text messages than actual people. Furthermore, the fact that things have gotten worse over the past year is not your imagination.
According to the New York Times, 11.6 billion scam messages were sent on US wireless networks in March, a 30% increase from February.
1. Medicare fraud
Scammers are taking advantage of Medicare’s open enrollment period to defraud seniors, according to the Federal Trade Commission. To maintain your benefits or enroll in a better plan, scammers pose as Medicare agents and ask for your Social Security number, bank account information, or credit card information.
The information that true Medicare representatives require from you should already be in their possession. If not, they will only call in certain circumstances, as detailed in this Medicare fraud publication, rather than texting.
2. Scams involving Social Security
According to the Social Security Administration, con artists posing as Social Security employees have been enticing victims with texts that promise greater benefits in exchange for their personal information by leading them to a phony website.
The Social Security website lists very rare circumstances in which they might text you, so you can maximize your benefit.
3. Scams by cable companies
Desire a cheaper internet or cable bill? According to the FTC, con artists have been texting people lately with the convenient offer of just that. To be eligible for the offer, they ask you to prepay a portion of your bill in gift cards.
The FTC claims that anyone advising you to use a gift card to make a payment is con artists, and you will not be able to get your money back.
4. IRS fraud
Even though tax season is still a few months away, the IRS has warned of an “exponential” rise in text scams. These texts deceive taxpayers by offering COVID-19 relief or tax credits, among other things, to click a link that collects personal information.
Never respond to a text from the IRS requesting personal or financial information. It requests that you report these types of scams by emailing email@example.com with a screenshot or a copy of the exact text. Moreover, you can forward these texts to your wireless provider at 7726 (SPAM), which will try to stop the number from texting anyone else.
5. Scams on Amazon
The holiday shopping season is quickly approaching, which presents a great opportunity for con artists. Texts purporting to be from Amazon may mention orders you didn’t place and direct you to a fictitious Amazon URL that is really intended to steal your financial and personal data.
The Amazon website offers information on identifying this kind of scam as well as a method for reporting questionable messages.
6. Scams involving student loan forgiveness
The federal government’s recent decision to forgive up to $20,000 in student loan debt has given con artists even more easy targets.
The U.S. fraudsters may scare borrowers by stating that the program has been discontinued, demanding personal information verification, or insisting forgiveness is first come, first served.
If you fall victim to a scam message, you should notify your bank and loan servicer right away. You can report these texts to the Education Department.
7. Scams involving tech support
Upgrading your computer and other tech is a terrific idea during the impending Black Friday and Cyber Monday sales, which many of us occasionally need assistance setting up.
The FTC warns that scammers take advantage of this by posing as tech support services like Best Buy’s Geek Squad.
After they have you worked up, the scammer may offer to reverse the charge if you give them access to your computer remotely or your bank account details, which they will use to steal from your accounts.
In these circumstances, the FTC advises customers to call the company in question at a phone number they are certain is legitimate (you can find this number on a business card, recent billing statement, or the company website) and inquire about the text message.
ReportFraud.ftc.gov is where you can report these scams as well as others.