Scammer round-up: March 2022
Every month, we here at TextNow take a look at some of the calling and texting scams being perpetrated by bad actors targeting phone users of all kinds (not just TextNow.) We work very hard here to keep scammers and fraudsters off our platform, but with millions of messages and calls sent everyday, it's a big job. All carriers are in the same boat of trying to restrict their platform to legitimate users.
So, in the spirit of public service, here are some of the recent scams going around you should avoid:
A resurgence of a scam made briefly famous when scammers hacked Elon musk's Twitter feed to dupe some people.
This is a classic phishing scam. Basically, the scammers are looking to get people to send them their addresses in exchange for "free" Bitcoin, which of course never gets transferred.
Why would scammers do this? For a couple of reasons. They're trying to get you to click the fake TextNow Facebook link, which would redirect them to a page where they might ask for more information, including your credit card information. It also lets them know the phone numbers of the people who clicked on the link, knowing that those people will be more likely to fall for another scam in the future.
It goes without saying (I hope) that TextNow is not giving away Bitcoin or any other kind of cryptocurrency. More generally, we don't recommend clicking on ANY link you get from a text.
Fake Auto insurance
If you've ever gotten a call about your car's warranty, you might already know this one. It's a pretty basic scam, as far as these go: It's often a robocall saying your warranty or car insurance is about to expire. Then they try to keep you on the line to provide personal info that the scammers can use to defraud you.
USA Today reports that a staggering 51% of all scam call attempts in 2021 were auto insurance scams. That's pretty bonkers to say the least.
Luckily, this one is easy enough to root out. If you get one of these calls about your car warranty or insurance, just hang up and call your insurance company or dealership to check the status of your car. And, as always, do not provide personal info over the phone.
We talked about imposter scams a few weeks ago, and since we're heading into tax season (ugh) we're going to be seeing more of this variant where scammers pose as an IRS representative in an attempt to phish more info from you. Similar to the auto scam, The "agent" on the call might try to convince you that you owe more money, or that you have a refund coming. In either case they'll ask for your banking information or credit card to get this supposed refund or money owed.
Let's let the IRS itself explain some basic information, from their article on tax scams:
The IRS will never:
- Call to demand immediate payment using a specific payment method such as a prepaid debit card, gift card or wire transfer. Generally, the IRS will first mail a bill to any taxpayer who owes taxes.
- Threaten to immediately bring in local police or other law enforcement groups to have the taxpayer arrested for not paying.
- Demand that taxes be paid without giving taxpayers the opportunity to question or appeal the amount owed.
- Call unexpectedly about a tax refund.
What to do if you get a scam call or text
First, block and report the number. Whichever messaging or calling service you're using should have a method for doing so. In TextNow it looks like this:
In the conversation in TextNow, tap the drop down menu icon in the upper right hand corner. (It's the one with three vertical dots.) Then choose to either block the number, or block and report it. Reporting the number puts it on a list with us of potentially bad numbers.
You can also report any of these scams directly to the US Treasury department and/or email the IRS at [email protected]. Be sure to put "IRS Phone Scam" in the subject line.
So until next month, keep your eyes peeled for these and other potential scams.