Scammers are constantly upgrading their methods to reach more victims while seeming more reputable. Recently, scammers have gone away from post and email scams and instead are focusing on SMS scams. Since most of us think that our cell phone numbers are private (they aren’t!) and messages to them must be from legit sources, it is easy to fall victim to these SMS scams. It is important that you take precautions, such as checking messages with a reverse cell directory, before taking any action on them.
How do SMS Scams Work?
There are a lot of different types of SMS scams but they all essentially work in the same ways. They promise you some sort of free offer, coupon, or reward. All you have to do is claim the reward by replying to the SMS with some information or a special code. You should never give out your personal information, whether by text, email or post! You should also never respond to offers with codes until you know that they are legit. Sometimes the code can unleash a worm into your phone software and get access to your account information, leading to identity theft and other problems.
Checking SMS Offers with a Reverse Cell Lookup
A lot of times the offers you get via SMS are legit. For example, my phone company regularly offers me special deals, like free minutes, but I have to send an SMS to them to accept the offer. The SMS scammers do a good job of mimicking real offers so it is hard for you to tell the difference between a scam and legitimate deal. They may even use a phone number which resembles one that a business uses. Always type the SMS sender number into a search engine before you take any action! If it is a scam, then it is likely that someone else has already posted an alert online about that number.
A reverse cell phone lookup with give you a much clearer idea of whether a scam is going on or not. When you type in the number to the reverse cell search, you will get information about who that number belongs to. With a legitimate company, you should get the company name and address (and possibly a lot of other information, depending on the cell search you use). Scammers almost always use prepaid cell phones which are not traceable to their names. The reverse cell lookup will tell you that the cell number is prepaid and only in use for a short period of time. This is evidence of a scam!
What to do if you get a Scam SMS Message?
If you check a fishy-sounding SMS message with a reverse cell lookup and think a scam is going on, you should contact your local authorities. They can take action to track down the cell number and shut down the scam before people fall victim to it. If you are unsure of whether it is really a scam or not, then contact the company which is supposedly sending you the SMS (like your phone company or a retailer). Ask if the deal is legit. If not, they will want to know who is pretending to be them and take action to stop the SMS scam.