A new SMS scam has been around this month, featuring seemingly innocent content that puts your private information at risk. Better Business Bureau is warning consumers to beware of this tempting scam.
How the scam works
You receive a text that reads like this: “Hey, is that John? It’s Amanda. We already chatted on Tinder when I came to visit my cousin but we never met irl. I’m back in town if you wanna see yourself this time, are you free?
If you respond to text like this, even with a polite “Sorry, wrong number,” the stranger responds anyway, seemingly ignoring your response. Usually you will receive a few compliments and a few pictures of “Amanda” or some other name that appears to be a scantily clad woman. Names, story, and photos will follow a similar script, but may be different.
A consumer told BBB Mountain West that he initially felt bad for the girl – in her case, Alyssa – and assumed she had received the wrong number from the man she was trying to join, “Dominick”. In her post, the dating app was Bumble, and the parent was an aunt instead of a cousin, but the idea was the same. He became suspicious when a photo of a pretty girl was sent immediately after his reply without further context, and blocked the number.
If you continue to engage with the stranger, who is actually a chat bot, they are trying to trick you into signing up for dating or adult sites. Your new “friend” will encourage you to register on a specific website to see more meaningful photos, which may involve providing your credit card number. Due to the questionable nature of this scam, if you pass on your credit card information at any point, you could be exposed to fraudulent charges and identity theft.
How to avoid chatbot scams
Ignore stranger texts. If you get a text from someone you don’t know, just don’t respond. It is the safest route. If you engage with a scammer, even briefly, they’ll mark your number as active and you might get even shady texts in the future. Beware of people who continue to strike up a conversation after you tell them they have the wrong number.
Block numbers that appear to come from scammers. Unsolicited texts that appear to be from a chatbot or ask you to click on suspicious links are probably not safe. Block these numbers to prevent crooks from contacting you again through them.
Never give your personal information to strangers. Never share your credit card or banking information, full name, home address, or social security number with someone you’ve never met in person.
Never click on links in unsolicited messages. A single click can give the scammer access to all of your personal information.
For more information
Read the BBB’s advice: spot the red flags of fake text messages. Learn more about similar scams, such as texting with surprise offers or mandatory COVID testing.
If you’ve been the victim of an SMS scam, report it to BBB.org/ScamTracker. Your report can help expose the crooks’ tactics so that others don’t fall prey.
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