ATLANTA– Attorney General Chris Carr is warning Georgians to be on the lookout for text message scams, including texts from unknown or unexpected senders with links requesting payment or sensitive information.
“Scammers will use any means to commit their crimes, including sending texts that initially appear to come from a trusted source, such as a government entity, law enforcement agency, bank or well-known retailer,” said Carr. “What may seem like an urgent or enticing message is often an attempt by a fraudster to infect your device or steal your money or personal information. Our goal is to ensure Georgians have the resources they need to protect themselves from fraudsters and thieves, and we stand ready to assist any consumer who thinks they may have fallen victim to a text message scam.”
The Attorney General’s Consumer Protection Division offers the following information to help Georgians identify and avoid common text message scams.
Common Text Message Scams
- Driver’s License Scams: You receive a text message claiming to be from the Department of Driver Services informing you that your license has been temporarily suspended. You are then asked to follow a fraudulent link to verify your driver’s license information. This is a scam. The Department of Driver Services never communicates with customers via text message unless the customer contacts them first. If there is an issue with someone’s driver’s license, the agency will contact customers in writing before taking any action.
- Government Imposter Scams: Don’t be fooled by threatening text messages from the IRS, the Social Security Administration, law enforcement or other government agencies warning that you will be arrested or that your Social Security account will be suspended unless you click on a link and provide payment information immediately. Ignore the message and, if you are worried there might actually be some legitimacy to the claim, look up the actual number for the agency and call it directly.
- Prizes and Reward Points: A scammer posing as a well-known company, such as Amazon, Walmart or AT&T, sends out a text message claiming that you have won a prize or that, if you are among the first 100 people to click on a link, you will win a prize. If you click on the link, you will be prompted to enter your bank account so the “prize money” can be directly deposited into your account. In a similar scenario, you receive a text message from a well-known store or online retailer claiming that you have reward points that will expire soon. Again, you are asked to click on a link that will prompt you to enter your financial and/or account information.
- Package Deliveries: These fraudulent text messages claim there is a package waiting for you and prompt you to click on a link to confirm delivery, set delivery preferences or track the package. If you click on the link, you will be asked to enter your personal information or to provide payment information in order to complete the delivery. The best thing to do in this scenario is to refrain from replying to or clicking any links in the message. Instead, contact the shipper directly by looking up the actual customer service contact information for them.
- Bank Account Suspended: You receive a text warning you of fraudulent activity on your account. You are asked to click on a link or call a phone number that prompts you to provide your debit or credit card, account number and/or PIN. Again, do not respond to the sender or click on the link. Instead, call the phone number for the financial institution that appears on the back of your credit or debit card or on your monthly statement.
Tips to Avoid Text Message Scams
- Don’t click on links or reply to texts from unknown or unverified senders. It could download malware onto your phone that can infect your device, give the scammer access to all of your data, or lock your phone.
- Never provide your credit card number, bank account, driver’s license, online account name, password, or PIN to someone who texts you out of the blue. If you want to confirm whether the text message is legitimate, contact the company or agency directly through a verified phone number or website – not the one provided in the text message.
- Do not respond to a suspicious or unwanted text message, even if prompted to “text STOP” to end messages. While texting “STOP” to a legitimate organization can opt you out of receiving future texts, doing so in response to a scam message can actually let the scammer know your number is active and can be sold to other bad actors. You can try verifying whether the number from which the texts are coming is legitimate by looking up the number online to see if it is used by a reputable organization or business for text messages.
- Make sure your smart device and security apps are updated to the latest version.
- Contact the organization that the con artist is impersonating so that they are aware and can take appropriate action.
- Report the message to your phone carrier by forwarding it to 7726.
- Block suspicious numbers and delete the associated text messages.
- Report scam texts to the Federal Communications Commission online or by calling (888) 225-5322.
Additional Consumer Protection Resources
- The Georgia Consumer Protection Guide for Older Adults includes an array of topics of importance to seniors, such as scams, identity theft, credit and debt, reverse mortgages, charitable giving, home repairs, funerals, advance directives, long-term care, elder abuse and more. The Guide is available in English, Spanish and Korean. Contact the Consumer Protection Division to request a hard copy or download the Guide here.
- Cybersecurity in Georgia: A Guide for Small Businesses, Non-Profits and Places of Worship is designed to help organizations raise awareness and understanding of cyber threats and highlight common industry best practices. The Guide provides tips and information about the different types of cyber threats, protecting your data and network, training employees about cybersecurity, planning for and responding to a security breach, cyber insurance and more. Contact the Consumer Protection Division to request a hard copy or download the Guide here.