How to Identify a Fake Text Message – Complete Guide 2023
Fake text messages are becoming increasingly common as messaging becomes more popular. Spammers have discovered that texting is a trusted channel, making it easier to dupe consumers into falling for their traps. However, if you know how to identify a fake text message, you’ll be able to stop reading and delete them right away.
According to the Federal Trade Commission (FTC), a consumer protection agency, over $137 million was reported lost in the United States in 2021 from frauds originating in scam texts.
People lost over $137 million in the U.S. in 2021 as a result of scam texts.
How to Identify a Fake Text Message
The most common way to detect fake text messages is to look for warning signs that you are dealing with a scam. The following are some of the most common signs that your unexpected message is fake.
Step # 01: Irrelevant Message for You
Scammers may send messages that appear to be from a legitimate company, such as Amazon, but this is not always the case. Sometimes they will not even mention a brand name. If you don’t know the brand, haven’t interacted with it, or see no mention of it, this is a red flag. In that case, you have undoubtedly received a bogus company text message.
Furthermore, if you don’t understand what the text is saying, it’s probably suspicious. If you aren’t expecting a package, the text “You have a package from UPS” is probably false. The same is true of a text message that says “Bill for payment – 1555448” or “we detected fraud on your account.”
Step # 02: Spelling or Grammatical Errors in Message
For whatever reason, spammers who specialize in sending fake messages appear to be especially bad at grammar and spelling. That’s good news for us, because any text purporting to be from a large, legitimate business will ensure its texts are letter perfect. If you receive a text message with obvious errors and it is not from a close friend, you can assume it is fake.
Step # 03: Promises Fake Rewards
One of the most common text scams is receiving a text message informing you that you have won a prize but must first complete a few steps. If you haven’t recently entered any contests, the text message is most likely a scam.
This is particularly true if the prize appears to be too good to be true. The text message does not even need to include a prize. It could simply be the creation of discount coupons.
Step # 04: Having Mysterious Links
In order to disguise themselves, fraudulent texters and spammers may include unidentified links in their messages. Never click on a link that does not come from someone you know; the link could take you to a phishing site or contain malware. In fact, you should assume that any text you receive from an unknown party with mysterious links is most likely fake.
Step # 05: Demands Immediate Action
One common tactic used by spammers is to instill a sense of urgency in their message, whether it’s to persuade you that the message is from a friend in need of immediate financial assistance, the IRS looking for a missed payment, or a company warning that you have a problem with your car, house, or other asset and must pay money right away to resolve the issue. If you receive a text message requesting immediate action, confirm the issue independently, whether by phone or email.
How to Handle a Fake Text Message
Now that you know how to identify a fake text message, here’s what you can do to protect yourself.
Step # 01: Don’t respond to Message
First and foremost, if you recognize a scam text message, do not respond to it. It’s understandable to be upset and want to send a series of messages to confront the scammer, but interacting allows them to push your buttons.
Scammers believe in the power of numbers; the more people they text, the better their chances of success. Scammers will give up if you ignore their message and move on to the next person to test their luck.
Step # 02: Block the Number
If you confirm that a text is spam or smishing, you should block the number. Simply report the number to your cell service provider so that they can take action to protect customers from the malicious entity using the number.
Step # 03: Report the Number
You can either stop after blocking the number or go a step further and report the number to the appropriate authorities. There are a few places where you can report an unwanted message.
- Report it through the messaging app you use. Learn more about reporting a number on iMessage on the Apple website or on Google for Android.
- Copy the message and send it to 7726. (SPAM).
- Report it to the Federal Trade Commission at ReportFraud.ftc.gov.
What’s the difference between spam and fake text messages?
Understanding how to identify a fake text message starts with knowing the difference between fake texts and spam texts, as they’re slightly different.
Spam text messages are any unwanted or unsolicited messages sent to your phone. Whether they come from a legitimate business or a scammer, if you did not sign up to receive these texts, they’re spam.
Meanwhile, fake text messages are texts that scammers send with the intent of deceiving the recipient into sharing their personal or financial information. They’re a type of spam text message in the sense that they are definitely unwanted texts.
Examples of Fake Text Messages
There are numerous types of text message scams available. Here are some examples of fake text messages you might receive.
Fake Account Alerts or Fake Subscription Texts
- [JP MORGAN] Your credit card has been blocked. Verify your phone number here >> http://jpmorganjk.com/TRICKY2343
- IRS ALERT: Your tax filing is incorrect and you will be audited. Call us back immediate or arrest warrant issued.
- Thanks for paying your November ATT bill! If mistake, verify account here >> www.wrongnumber.com/whoops
Fake Award Texts
- You’ve won! Go to bit.ly/winnerwinner to claim your $250 Amazon gift card.
- ***WINNER*** U r all set for the Bahamas! Check out your all-inclusive vacation details here >> www.bahamanebrasks.com/3SKIBN.
- It’s ur lucky day! U won a special prize >> www.fakeit.com/notreal
Fake Confirmation Texts
- Customer, Trusted Bank is closing your bank account as per your request. Please keep this for your records or confirm your PIN at nottrustedbank.com/EIJEM33 to cancel.
- Order Confirmation #23584U74. Plz login to your account here if this is incorrect >> amazon.com/notreal/EFJNV253
- Thank you for entering the Fantasy Football Gambling Ring! Your $500 will go far. Make a change to your bet here >> fantasyfootballfake.com
Fake Wrong Number Texts
- Tom can you give me a call?
- Geraldine, I’m interested in purchasing your Honda Civic. Are you interested in making a sale?
- Hi, I have your number on my phone, but no name. May I ask which one you are?
Fake text messages are not only annoying, but they can also scam the recipient financially and even steal their identity. We hope that now that you know how to identify, avoid, and block fraudulent text messages, you will feel more confident when a strange message appears on your phone.
If you want to send legitimate text messages to your own customers, check out Xoopah’s text message services.