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  • Writer's pictureBurton Kelso, Tech Expert

How to Avoid Wrong Number Text Scams

If you own a mobile phone, it’s likely you've received a random text from someone who meant to send it to someone else. In recent months, more and more of you are reporting that you’ve received a mysterious text from someone who sent it to the wrong number. I have even received text messages from people asking "Hi! are you ready for piano lessons tonight", and "Hi, this is Wendy. Why are you in my address book?" Those random, odd text messages that are appearing on your smartphone are actually from cyber crooks who are looking to dupe you with another cybercrime scheme called the 'Wrong Number Scam' . Here's what you need to know:

When you receive a wrong number text message you would typically delete it especially if the text centered around something you didn't know about. Cybercriminals are constantly thinking of new ways to get you to interact with them so they can employ socially engineered attacks against you. This means they attempt to contact you in methods that will make you curious enough to respond to the messages that appear on your phone. They try tactics such as acting like they are trying to look for a merchant selling goods or services. They will attempt to send texts that make you think you're talking to a long-lost friend. The point is for them to get you to interact with a text and start a process that will allow you to gain trust with the criminals. What is worse is that the emergence of AI allows cyber thieves to craft messages without normal grammatical messages. Once they interact with you they can use voice cloning and deep fake scams to masks

Crooks are hoping what started off as an innocent mistake by the initial text they sent you is actually the start of the long game of conning you out of your money. Some of these text scams can go on over a period of weeks, or even a month, where the scammer will attempt to develop a relationship with you. If you're thinking of another romance scam not always. Sometimes they can work towards a platonic friendship or a mentor relationship with you. Once they make a connection with you, then the conversation turns into tricking you into investing in cryptocurrency, or any other money scheme.

How can you keep yourself safe? It goes without saying in today's digital world, you shouldn't respond to unknown text messages, but it takes more than that to stay safe from crafty crooks who are after your money. Here are some tips you should follow:

  • Avoid texts from people you don’t know. If you get a text from a stranger, the safest thing to do is simply ignore it and don’t reply. If you respond to a crook briefly, they’ll mark down your phone number as active, which could lead to your receiving even more texts from scammers.

  • Stop sharing your smartphone number. Your smartphone number should only be shared with family and close friends. Even if you run a business, you need to get out of the practice of sharing your mobile number. Instead, as an individual use a Google Voice or Whatsapp number as your public number. For businesses, consider Vonage or Ring Central instead.

  • Don’t click on links in text messages. If you click on links in the message you could download a virus to your phone.

  • Block suspicious numbers. When texts arrive to your phone that you think might be from scammers, block the numbers to prevent them from being used to contact you again.

  • Guard your personal information. Be careful with disclosing your full name, your home address, your Social Security number, credit card and banking information, and other personal details. Make darn sure you aren't sharing these details with someone you met over texting.

Hopefully, this post has given you the information you need to keep yourself safe from wrong-number scams. If you need further assistance, please reach out to me with any questions you might have. I am always happy to help!

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