The Joplin Globe, Joplin, MO

Local News

June 12, 2012

Avoiding text message scams

Viruses and phishing scams are quickly moving to smartphones, meaning consumers have to exercise the same caution when they're mobile that they do at their desk.

When you get a text from a source that appears suspicious, the prudent thing to do is assume that it's a scam. These messages usually contain malware and viruses designed to infect your phone and steal personal information.

And because everyone likes something "free," common examples include messages claiming you have "won" a gift card for Wal-Mart, Best Buy, Apple and other national retailers.

Fortunately, there are ways to protect yourself:

  • Do not click on links contained in unsolicited text messages
  • Do not reply to unsolicited texts. Regardless if the text suggests you can end receipt by sending a "STOP" message, doing so only confirms the message was sent to a live phone and may result in unauthorized third party charges to your wireless statement.
  • Contact your cell carrier. Most providers have specific instructions to report SMS (text) SPAM, block numbers and in some cases websites.
  • Register all your phones, including wireless with the Do Not Call List. Text messages sent to phones on the Do Not Call list are in violation of the law and can be reported to either the Federal Trade Commission or Federal Communications Commission
  • Discuss text scams with all members of your family who have cell phones
  • Be wary of any messages, emails, texts, voice mails, etc. that claim you've won a prize out of the blue. If you didn't enter a contest, you didn't win
  • Never give your credit card, Social Security or bank account numbers to claim "prizes," sign up for free trials or cover related shipping costs
  • Check your bank, credit card and wireless phone statements on a regular basis to detect suspicious charges

Story provided by ConsumerAffairs.

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