Watch Out for These Fraudulent Texts and Calls

Does it seem like you’ve been getting a lot more text messages and calls from scammers lately? There seems to be an uptick, and in a few cases the senders or callers seem to have at least some correct information about their targets.

This first text message is an old-fashioned, non-targeted attempt that preys on potential victims’ security fears:

Your browsing history showed visits to unsecured websites. You now have (3) virus on your phone. Clean your phone [link redacted] ASAP

The next one has been reported by a lot of AT&T mobile customers, indicating that some information linking their name with their mobile phone provider (and number) has fallen into the wrong hands:

AT&T Free Msg: [correct first name], we accidentally overcharged your account last month. Kindly your reimbursement here: [link redacted]

There are other versions that mention a “gift” or “freebie” for paying your bill, “appologies” for signal issues, or a threat that your phone will be locked unless you follow a link.

On the robocall scam side of things, one common fraud attempt again apparently has linked potential victims with using (or having used) AT&T services at some point. One such robocall message goes like this:

“Hi there I’m calling you from AT&T DIRECTV to let you know that your existing account is qualify for 50% off. In order to avail the discount kindly call us back on [phone number redacted] thank you and have a great day.”

Student loan forgiveness is a hot topic these days, and this next robocall tries to strike up a conversational tone with potential victims. Since this call is also received by people without any student loan debt, it does not appear to be a targeted attack using personal information. The only unusual thing is the use of the correct current date in the call:

Hello this is Jay following up with an earlier request for a evaluating student loan forgiveness options or possible or payments. It’s currently [correct current date] and the reason for my call today is that we were never able to reach you to complete your student loan forgiveness application. Please give us a call by the end of business day today otherwise we do have to close out your application process. Please give us a call at [phone number redacted]. That is [phone number redacted]. Thank you.

In every case above, the only correct response is to ignore and delete. You can block the numbers, but since the scammers use a new randomly-generated fake phone number every time, it won’t do much good. Never call them back to tell them to stop contacting you; all this does is confirm that your number works. They absolutely will NOT stop calling. They will do the opposite.

One tool some mobile phone providers offer is the ability to silence incoming calls from numbers that aren’t in your contacts. This means you have to make sure certain numbers are saved in your phone (all possible work numbers, friends, relatives, medical providers who might call), but these tools can cut down a lot of annoying interruptions, at least from robocalls. It’s a lot easier to recognize and deal with robocalls when they’re just a (partial, usually) voicemail instead of a live call.