By District Attorney Summer Stephan
You may have stopped answering calls from unknown phone numbers long ago to avoid fraudsters, but con artists can still sneak into your finances through scam text messages, in a scam known as “smishing” or “phishing.” Scammers are impersonating organizations and financial institutions you know and trust to get you to click on links. They use fear and doubt to convince you that if you don’t click on a PayPal link, for example, an enormous charge on your account will go through.
According to the Federal Trade Commission (FTC), there were $330 million in losses to scam texts in 2022 -- more than double compared to the previous year. Texts offering free gifts or warning of dire consequences are hard to ignore and scammers know this. This scam is a new flavor of what is commonly referred to as “social engineering.” Their goal is to trick you into providing personal information such as your account number, password or Social Security number. Other messages might install harmful malware on your phone that steals your personal or financial information without you realizing it or will give access to the bad actor, allowing them to control your device or install other malware.
The top text scams according to the FTC are:
Common red-flag tactics in scams texts include:
To avoid these and other text scams, follow these tips:
The DA’s Consumer Protection Unit is composed of Deputy District Attorneys, Investigators and Paralegals dedicated to protecting consumers and law-abiding businesses from fraudulent or unfair business practices. To report a consumer complaint, you can call (619) 531-3507 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
As your District Attorney, I’m committed to increasing communication and accessibility between the DA’s Office and the public in order to keep you safe. I hope these consumer and public safety tips have been helpful.