Text Scams: Tips to Protect Yourself and Recover Your Funds

Welcome to our Text Scams Warning, where we provide all the knowledge you need to help protect you and your family from text scams. In case you have already been scammed, we teach you how to recover your money.

What triggered this article is a complaint we received on April 26, 2023, from a person from Nevada, USA who was scammed for $1,000:

I received a text which said: ‘FreeMsg: Wells Fargo activity. 4575.92 @MEIJER/Ashville. Reply Y if recognized or use: 1-855-579-1468 for help. Stop to stop.’ I called the number because my credit card has been compromised before, but this time it was my ATM card. After I gave them the information, the recording said that the text had been sent by mistake.

Today, we found out that our account is at zero. The bank said that the money had been transferred through Western Union to a Wuvisaaft, but when I contacted Western Union, the recording asked for an address, which I don’t have, and then hung up on me. I tried an online chat, but it was just answers.com, which I guess had tried to scam me before, so I didn’t get any results there either.

“WUVISAAFT” is a charge on bank statements when a Western Union money transfer is made using a Visa credit or debit card. It is an abbreviation for Western Union (WU), Visa credit account (VISA), and Account Funding Transaction (AFT). Typical scenarios for these transactions include paying bills, settling debts with friends or family, and sending money to help family members overseas. If the charge appears on a statement without any recollection of making a Western Union transfer, it could be due to forgetfulness, an error by the card issuer, or fraudulent activity. In such cases, gathering information and filing a dispute with the card issuer or contacting Western Union customer service is essential.

Text scams are a type of fraud in which scammers send unsolicited text messages to potential victims to deceive them into revealing sensitive information, such as personal or financial details, or trick them into sending money.

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These scams have increased in recent years, thanks to the widespread use of smartphones and the ease with which criminals can simultaneously send mass text messages to many people.

As technology continues to evolve, scammers are becoming more sophisticated in their tactics, making it increasingly important for individuals to stay informed and vigilant.

Awareness and prevention are crucial in the fight against text scams. Many people may not realize that fraud has targeted them until it’s too late, resulting in losing personal information or funds.

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    By educating yourself on the common types of scams, the warning signs, and the best practices for avoiding them, you can significantly reduce your chances of falling victim to these malicious attacks.

    Furthermore, sharing information and experiences with friends, family, and online communities can help create a network of informed individuals who collectively work to recognize and report scams, making it harder for scammers to succeed.

    Ultimately, vigilance and education are the most effective tools in combating the growing threat of text scams, which is why this article is essential.

    Text Scams

    Common Types of Text Scams

    There are several types of text scams. For example:

    Phishing scams / Smishing scams

    Text phishing scams, or “smishing” (a combination of SMS and phishing), are fraudulent activities where scammers send text messages to potential victims, pretending to be from reputable organizations such as banks, government agencies, or well-known companies.

    The goal of these scams is to deceive recipients into revealing sensitive information, like usernames, passwords, credit card details, or social security numbers, or to trick them into downloading malware or visiting malicious websites.

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    Typically, a text phishing message will contain a sense of urgency or a call to action, such as:

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    • Claiming there is a problem with your account that requires immediate attention.
    • Informing you about a suspicious transaction and asking you to verify your details.
    • Notifying you about a prize, giveaway, or discount offer that requires you to click on a link or provide personal information.
    • Pretending to be a government agency that needs your details for tax or benefit-related purposes.
    • Directing you to download an app or update your software through a link provided in the text message.

    There are different types of smishing text scams:

    Bank or financial institution impersonation

    In these scams, fraudsters pretend to represent a bank or financial institution.

    They typically send text messages claiming an issue with the victim’s account or a suspicious transaction that requires immediate attention.

    The goal is to deceive recipients into providing sensitive financial information or login credentials.

    The complaint we showcased at the beginning of this article is an example of a text smishing scam where the scammers impersonate the Wells Fargo bank.

    Tax or government agency impersonation

    Scammers in these scams impersonate government agencies, such as the IRS or Social Security Administration.

    They might claim that the recipient owes taxes, is eligible for a refund, or needs to update their personal information for government benefits.

    The objective is to trick the victim into providing sensitive information or paying the scammers.

    Fake text messages from known companies

    In this type of smishing scam, fraudsters pose as well-known companies or brands to gain the trust of potential victims.

    They might send messages about account updates, special offers, or technical issues, prompting recipients to click on a link or provide personal information.

    The purpose is to steal sensitive data or install malware on the victim’s device.

    Prize or contest scams

    Scammers inform recipients that they have won a prize, a lottery, or a contest in these scams.

    To claim the winnings, victims are often asked to provide personal information, pay a fee, or click on a link.

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    The goal is to steal the victim’s money or personal information or to infect their device with malware.

    One-time password (OTP) scams

    One-time password (OTP) text scams are text phishing or smishing scams in which fraudsters attempt to gain access to a victim’s accounts by intercepting or tricking them into revealing their OTPs.

    OTPs are commonly used as a second layer of security (two-factor authentication) by banks, online services, and other institutions to ensure the user’s identity when logging in or conducting sensitive transactions.

    In an OTP text scam, a scammer may employ various tactics, such as:

    • Impersonation: The scammer pretends to represent a bank, financial institution, or online service and sends a message or calls the victim, claiming there is an issue with their account that requires immediate attention. They then ask the victim to provide the OTP they receive, claiming it’s needed to resolve the issue.
    • Social engineering: Scammers may use social engineering techniques to manipulate victims into revealing their OTPs. For example, they might call the victim and pretend to be a customer service representative assisting with a password reset or account verification.
    • Malware or spyware: Scammers may use malware or spyware installed on a victim’s device to intercept or capture the OTPs sent to them via text message. This method allows the scammer to access the victim’s accounts without directly engaging with them.

    Charity scams

    Text charity scams are a type of phishing or smishing scam in which fraudsters pose as legitimate charitable organizations to deceive victims into making donations.

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    Scammers exploit people’s goodwill and desire to help others, especially during times of crisis, natural disasters, or other emergencies when charitable giving is more likely.

    In a text charity scam, scammers may employ various tactics, such as:

    • Impersonation: Scammers pretend to represent a well-known or genuine charity and send text messages to potential victims requesting donations. These messages may contain a link to a fake website that resembles a legitimate charity’s site, where victims are asked to enter their personal and financial information to donate.
    • Emotional manipulation: Fraudsters may use emotional appeals or exploit current events, such as natural disasters or health emergencies, to convince victims to donate to their fake charity. They may also share heart-wrenching stories or images to manipulate people’s emotions and make them more likely to contribute.
    • Unsolicited messages: Scammers often send unsolicited text messages to random recipients, hoping to catch someone off guard and willing to donate without verifying the charity’s legitimacy.

    Job or work-from-home scams

    Job or work-from-home text scams are a type of phishing or smishing scam in which fraudsters target job seekers or people interested in remote work opportunities.

    Scammers often exploit economic hardships, high unemployment rates, or the growing demand for remote work to deceive victims into sharing personal information, paying for fake job-related expenses, or participating in illegal activities.

    In a job or work-from-home text scam, scammers may employ various tactics, such as:

    • Unsolicited job offers: Scammers send text messages to potential victims with enticing job offers, often with high salaries and minimal requirements. These messages may contain a link to a fake job application or a request for the recipient to reply with their personal information.
    • Fake job postings: Fraudsters may create fake job postings on legitimate job search platforms or social media, advertising remote work opportunities that seem too good to be true. These postings may redirect applicants to a fake website or ask them to submit personal information via email or text.
    • Advance fee fraud: Scammers may ask victims to pay upfront fees for job-related expenses, such as training materials, software, or background checks. The scammer disappears once the payment is made, and the victim is left without a job and out of their money.
    • Money laundering or reshipping scams: In some cases, work-from-home text scams may involve illegal activities, such as money laundering or reshipping stolen goods. Victims may be asked to receive and forward packages or transfer money between bank accounts, unwittingly participating in criminal activities.

    Text Romance Scams

    Text romance scams, also known as online dating or catfishing, involve scammers creating fake profiles on dating apps, social media platforms, or messaging services to establish a romantic relationship with victims.

    Scammers exploit the victim’s emotions and trust, ultimately asking for money, personal information, or favors that can lead to financial or emotional loss.

    In a text romance scam, scammers may use various tactics, such as:

    • Creating a fake persona: Scammers often use attractive photos and appealing profiles to attract victims. They may claim a successful career, express shared interests, or be in another city or country to explain their inability to meet in person.
    • Building trust and affection: Over time, scammers develop a strong emotional connection with their victims through regular communication, often using text messages, emails, or messaging apps. They may send gifts, exchange photos, or even talk on the phone to build trust.
    • Fabricating a crisis or emergency: Once the victim is emotionally invested, scammers typically invent a problem or emergency that requires financial assistance. Typical scenarios include medical emergencies, legal troubles, or travel expenses to visit the victim. The scammer may promise to repay the victim but usually disappears once they receive the money.
    • Requesting personal information: In some cases, scammers may ask for personal information, such as bank account details, Social Security numbers, or other sensitive data, under the guise of trust or to facilitate the transfer of money. This information can be used for identity theft or other fraudulent activities.

    Messaging App Scams

    Smishing and romance scams are the most common types of text scams, as they specifically involve using SMS (text messaging) to deceive victims. However, there is another type of scam that could be considered a text scam but is not categorized as smishing: messaging app scams.

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    Messaging app scams occur on various messaging platforms, such as WhatsApp, Facebook Messenger, Telegram, and Viber, rather than traditional SMS text messaging.

    These scams can share similarities with smishing but are not limited to SMS.

    Some examples of messaging app scams include:

    • Lottery or prize scams: Scammers send messages claiming the victim has won a prize or lottery and request personal information or payment to claim the winnings.
    • Account verification scams: Fraudsters impersonate the messaging app’s support team and ask for account information, such as passwords or verification codes, claiming it’s necessary to maintain or upgrade the account.
    • Romance scams: Scammers create fake profiles on messaging apps, establish a relationship with the victim, and eventually ask for money or personal information, exploiting the victim’s trust and emotions.
    • Phishing links: Similar to smishing scams, messaging app scams may include links to fake websites designed to steal personal information or install malware on the victim’s device.

    One recent example of a text messaging app scam is the Flubot malware scam. This scam targets Android users, but iPhone users can also receive the messages. The text message tells the receiver they missed a call or have a new voicemail and provides a fake link to listen. If the user clicks on the link, it aims to install malware on their phone.

    Another example is the missed delivery notification scam text from UPS and others. The text message claims you missed delivery and provides a fake link to reschedule or track the package.


    This article will not be complete without briefly mentioning spam text messages.

    Spam texts are unsolicited and unwanted text messages sent to your mobile phone, usually to promote a product, service, or scam. Companies, organizations, or individuals can send them, and they can be quite annoying, disruptive, and potentially harmful.

    Spam texts can contain various types of content, such as:

    • Advertising: Some spam texts promote products, services, or events. These messages are usually sent without your consent and can be considered unwanted advertising.
    • Phishing: Spam texts can also be used for phishing, a scam where scammers try to trick you into providing sensitive information, such as passwords, account numbers, or Social Security numbers. These messages may look like they come from a legitimate source (e.g., your bank or a well-known company), but they’re designed to steal your personal information.
    • Malware: Some spam texts include links or attachments that, when clicked or opened, can install malware on your device. This can lead to various problems, such as data theft or unauthorized access to your device.

    Tips to Recognize and Avoid Text Scams

    Here are some helpful tips to keep in mind to avoid falling for text scams:

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    1. Check for grammatical errors or inconsistencies: Scammers often use poorly written messages or have text inconsistencies. That might be a red flag if a message seems off or unprofessional.
    2. Don’t click on unfamiliar links: Scammers often try to get you to click on links that can lead to malicious websites or install malware on your device. Avoid clicking on any suspicious links from unknown sources.
    3. Verify the sender’s information: If you receive a message from a company or organization, confirm it’s legitimate by checking their official website or contacting them directly. Never trust a message based solely on the sender’s name or phone number.
    4. Use two-factor authentication (2FA): By enabling 2FA on your accounts, you add an extra layer of security. Even if a scammer gets your password, they won’t be able to access your account without the second verification step.
    5. Keep your personal information secure: Avoid sharing sensitive information like your Social Security number, credit card details, or passwords through text messages. Scammers can use this information for identity theft or other malicious purposes.
    6. Be cautious of urgent requests or time-sensitive offers: Scammers often try to create a sense of urgency or pressure to get you to act quickly. Take a moment to think before responding to any message that seems too good to be true or demands immediate action.
    7. Report suspicious messages to relevant authorities: If you receive a text that you believe is a scam, report it to your mobile carrier, the Federal Trade Commission (FTC), or your local authorities. This can help others avoid falling victim to the same scam.

    Remember, it’s always better to be cautious and double-check any suspicious messages you receive.

    What to Do If You’ve Been Scammed

    If you have been scammed, taking action to minimize the damage and protect yourself from further issues is crucial.

    Here’s a detailed guide on what to do if you’ve been scammed:

    1. Report the scam to your bank or financial institution: Contact your bank or credit card company immediately to report any unauthorized transactions. They can help you freeze your accounts, cancel affected cards, and potentially reverse fraudulent charges.
    2. Change your passwords and update security measures: Update your passwords for any accounts that may have been compromised, especially those related to banking or any other sensitive information. Make sure to create strong, unique passwords, and consider using a password manager to help you keep track of them. Also, enable two-factor authentication wherever possible for added security.
    3. Monitor your credit report for suspicious activity: Keep an eye on your credit report to identify any unauthorized accounts or inquiries. You can request free credit reports from the three major credit bureaus (Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion) once a year. If you notice any unusual activity, contact the credit bureaus to place a fraud alert on your report. This will make it harder for scammers to open new accounts in your name.
    4. File a report: In the US, you can report scams to the Federal Trade Commission (FTC). If you’re in another country, find the agency responsible for handling scams and file a report. This will help authorities track down the scammers and potentially warn others about the fraud. You can forward the message to 7726 (SPAM) in the US to help your wireless provider block similar messages. You can usually also report it on the messaging app you use.
    5. Spread awareness and share your experience to prevent others from falling victim: Talk to your friends and family about what happened and share your story on social media or online forums. By raising awareness, you can help others recognize and avoid similar scams in the future.

    Remember, it’s essential to act quickly and take these steps to protect yourself and help others avoid falling victim to scams.

    If you need more help or advice, please don’t hesitate to contact us.

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    Bottom Line

    Hopefully, you now realize how important it is for all of us to stay vigilant and educated regarding text scams.

    Education is critical in combating these scams. The more we know how they work and what to look out for, the better equipped we are to protect ourselves and our loved ones.

    So, let’s try to stay informed and share any tips or experiences. This way, we can help each other stay safe in this digital age.

    If you have any helpful advice or stories about text scams, don’t hesitate to share them with friends, family, or even on social media. The more we all know, the less likely we are to fall for these sneaky tricks! Together, we can outsmart the scammers and keep our info secure.

    Stay safe and stay vigilant, everyone! And remember, sharing is caring!

    If you are a victim of these scammers, please let us know by commenting below, and if you have lost a significant amount of money to online scams, do not lose hope. We can help you recover your funds!

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