The rise of text and phone scams and why you should think

The text came from a number I didn’t recognize, but there was no question I knew the sender’s name.

He identified himself as the CEO of a company I had worked with for years, and he had a side to ask. Would I mind going to the nearest Apple Store and sending him a list of available gift card prices? He planned to buy a few for his staff as a surprise.

I immediately doubted.

For one thing, the CEO is in California, and I’m 2,500 miles away in Massachusetts. He also declined my request for a call to confirm the details, explaining he was in a conference call with a client, an impromptu excuse on Saturday afternoon.

When I insisted again that he had called to confirm, the texture went silent for good.

A quick search has shown that the Apple Gift Card scandal is so common that Apple has dedicated a page to it on its support site.

Phone and text scams are out of control, and the problem is getting worse, according to a report published last week by Truecaller.

A study of more than 2,000 American adults found that one in three phone scandals had an average loss of $ 577, up from 21 502 in 2021.

The company estimates that it has lost about $ 40 billion in phone scandals in the United States alone in the last 12 months.

Meanwhile, spam text – also known as “smashing” for a combination of SMS and phishing – has more than doubled in three years. Robokiller estimates that 87 billion of them were shipped in 2021, up 58% from the previous year, and that they collectively lost about $ 10 billion.

Trust CCrisis

Panic has shattered the fabric of trust around an essential form of communication.

Truecaller found that 90% of respondents in their survey said they answered a call only when they recognized the name of the call, although one in four admitted that they missed a valid call.

The problem remains stubbornly resistant to automatic resolution.

Last year, the FCC began adopting a set of protocols for phone companies called STIR / SHAKEN, which was intended to create a framework for verifying caller ID information.

Although most carriers comply, research indicates that scammers have quickly found a way to get closer to the limit. For example, last week, I received an alleged call from my healthcare provider trying to sell me an automated warranty.

Protect yOur own

Assuming the problem stays with us for a long time, you can take a few steps to protect yourself.

Stop and think. Scammers support messages that are intended to provoke emotional responses, such as telling you that your bank account is about to close. Think:

Would an organization in a heavily regulated industry like financial services communicate this kind of news via text message?

DonDon’t answer calls from people you don’t know. Of course, many of us have already done this, but scammers are adopting new tactics, such as spoofing calls, to make it look like they came from a local area code and a number similar to yours.

Even if the caller ID seems valid, it’s safer to let the call go to voicemail and reveal that you have a real person on your number than to answer.

Do not click on anonymous text message links. The temptation can sometimes be hard to resist. For example, when I was in Spain a few weeks ago, I received a text message from my credit card company informing me that my account was being suspended for suspicious activity and that I should click on a link to restore the service. A call to the local number of the provider informed me otherwise.

Do not click on any text links unless you know the sender very well and never click on any URL from the link-shortening service.

Never Work A message telling youI won money. I mean, let’s go.

Never To reveal Personal information If you are not sure about them, call a text or caller Identity. Legitimate businesses will never ask you to do that.

Finally, here’s an interesting tip from Reader’s Digest:

If you answer a call and hear “Can you hear me?” You should stop immediately. Scammers do this to entice you to say “yes”, they record a response and then use the voice response system to unlock all kinds of sensitive information.

It is a shame that so much creative energy is wasted on such predatory tactics.

Copyright © 2022 IDG Communications, Inc.

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