Text messages from “wrong” numbers can cost you. Ignore and block them!

Last Updated: March 14, 2024By Tags: , ,

Back in the day, when you received a phone call from a wrong number, the person calling either miss-dialed or was given your number by mistake. Usually there would be an apology from the caller and you’d hang up. Now, with mobile phones and texting, those “wrong” texts you receive periodically most likely are not honest mistakes. There is often nefarious intent behind them: a scammer who’s hoping to engage you in order to fleece you.

These seemingly misdirected text messages are the first tools in a scammer’s arsenal used for stealing money from you. Here’s how it happens: You see a text, obviously intended for someone else, appear on your phone. The subject of the text often varies from a change of doctor’s appointment, a realtor wanting to sell a home, and even someone wanting to schedule a romantic get-together. Speaking of the latter, there is a version circulating in Florida concerning meeting up for a “spicy night,” according to the state’s attorney general.

Whatever the subject of the text, your natural (and helpful) inclination is to text back with this apology, “Sorry, but you have the wrong number/wrong person.” Now the scammer (or often an automated chatbot that sends out computer-generated messages) has snared you into friendly back and forth texts. They might, if you are so inclined, invite you to join an adult website to ogle pornographic content. They might also tell you about a website where you can save on goods and services. Basically anything that may sound enticing and would persuade you to hand over your credit card information and other personal information.

“Scammers are primarily aiming to find phone numbers where people are willing to engage,” says a Federal Communications Commission (FCC) spokesperson. “They might then use that to try to get personal information or sell or reuse the number as a target for another scam.”

Here’s what you can do

Don’t respond to texts from numbers you don’t recognize. Simply delete them. Do not click on links within the texts or respond with “STOP” if the messages say you can do this to avoid future messages. Instead, block the phone numbers these texts come from. Unfortunately scammers often use multiple phone numbers (and many numbers are “spoofed,” meaning they are hiding behind someone else’s phone number — possibly even your own), so you might be seeing these texts again and again.

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