Text message scams now outnumber phone call scams, according to a 2021 mid-year report from call-blocking service Robokiller. Texts have been the most common type of scams since August 2020.
VERIFY viewers sent screenshots of text messages they suspected of being examples of scams. Their screenshots showed text messages that began with “AT&T Free Msg” and ended with what appeared to be a shortened URL.
Are scammers impersonating AT&T and other companies in text messages?
Yes, scammers are impersonating carriers like AT&T, as well as delivery services and many other companies, in a scam tactic called "SMiShing."
WHAT WE FOUND
The FCC says that scammers impersonate all types of companies, including subscription services, package and mail carriers, banks, government agencies and service providers such as mobile carriers. The FTC says scammers try to trick their victims with promises of free gifts, false notices of suspicious activity and fake package notifications.
The scammers are often looking for personal or financial information from the victim. This tactic has been dubbed “SMiShing" — a combination of SMS and phishing.
The FTC’s advice is simple: don’t click on links in unsolicited text messages.
AT&T also offers warnings similar to the FTC’s and FCC’s, reminding people that scammers are looking to take advantage of the distracted nature with which people check their phones. AT&T also says it does not send text messages or emails asking for personal account or credit card information.
The AARP says people should contact the company that supposedly sent the text — using the phone number on the bill or the company’s official website, not the number that sent the text in the first place — if there are any concerns about its legitimacy. Scam text messages can be forwarded to 7726 (SPAM), a spam reporting service run by the mobile phone industry. AT&T provides a how-to guide on how to report a text using 7726.
The FCC recommends that anyone who thinks they’ve fallen victim to such a scam should immediately report it to a local law enforcement agency and notify their wireless service provider and any financial institutions the victim uses.