Smishing & spam text messages

Stay a step ahead of the scammers. Educate yourself on some of the most common frauds and scams.

The rise of smishing, spam text messages and text scams.

Like robocalls, phishing emails and spam calls, smishing, spam text messages and text scams are on the rise. Typically, smishing scammers will send you text messages that attempt to get you to click a link and then provide personal or financial information about yourself. Smishing is serious and can lead to identity theft. You can report a fraud or identity theft complaint to the Federal Trade Commission.

The statistics speak for themselves. In the United States, $86 million was reported lost in 2020 from frauds originating in scam texts, according to the Federal Trade Commission (FTC). In 2020, 334,524 complaints were made, which equaled an average of 916 reports a day. The Federal Communications Commission (FCC), heard about 14,000 complaints about scam texts last year. This year there have been  6,900 reports up until late May and the numbers are on the rise, suggesting that the 2020 total will be surpassed in 2021.

What is Verizon doing to combat spam texting?

As described below, Verizon blocks billions of spam texts behind the scenes and employs numerous measures to help ensure that text messaging remains a trusted way for consumers and organizations to communicate. Because of those measures, the spam text problem is far smaller than the robocall problem, and we are taking various actions both to further improve trust in text messaging and to protect consumers from robocalls.

Verizon is committed to stopping spam text messages. Text messages are among the most trusted ways for consumers to communicate with one another, and for them to receive communications from organizations that they have given permission to text them. Verizon works hard “behind the scenes” to make sure text messages remain trusted. For example:

  • Verizon blocks more than a billion text messages every month where scammers are attempting to misuse our consumer services to spam our customers. We do that without examining the content of the messages.
  • We require businesses and other organizations sending high volumes of texts to consumers to adhere to industry guidelines that, among other things, require organizations to obtain consumer consent prior to sending texts. This applies to all types of organizations, including political campaigns.
  • We are constantly improving our spam monitoring and blocking. Verizon co-founded the Secure Messaging Initiative, where we coordinate with other service providers to identify and shut down illegal text message campaigns.

 

How can businesses use text messages to communicate with consumers?

Verizon is committed to ensuring that all wanted communications reach our customers without risk of being blocked as spam.  If you are a business, political campaign, or other organization, here’s how to make sure your organization’s text messages will get through:

You should ensure that the company you use to send messages (the “aggregator”) is committed to complying with the CTIA Messaging Principles and Best Practices.  A reputable aggregator will ensure that any organization’s text message campaign complies with the guidelines, and Verizon takes measures to ensure that compliant text message campaigns can reach their recipients.

Any organization sending text to consumers, is an A2P (Application-to-Person) campaign. Verizon does not use any blocking filters to prevent A2P messages arriving from other service providers from reaching our customers. Instead, we rely on ensuring that every campaign – regardless of its content – is compliant with the CTIA Messaging Principles and Best Practices.

  • The Best Practices require the organization to demonstrate, among other things, that the recipients of your messages have consented to receive them. 80% of consumers say that consent is crucial.
  • An organization that holds itself out as P2P (which means “person-to-person” is reserved for consumers texting other consumers) or is not compliant with the guidelines and its messages may be stopped.  If your aggregator purports to provide a “P2P” solution that does not comply with the A2P requirements, that is not compliant because P2P is only appropriate for consumer texting.

What are smishing and spam texts?

Smishing is a term used to describe phishing attempts and scams that use text messages or (Short Message Service) SMS as the primary attack platform. Smishing is used to  gather different types of  personal information, including address, credit card information and more.

Spam texts (also known as phishing texts or SMS spam) are messages sent by hackers, which attempt to get you to click on a link or divulge personal details such as banking information, credit cards, address or even your social security number. 

Scam types vary, but they will all attempt to rope you in with lucrative offers (like free prize money from a reputed retailer); attempt to get you to divulge information or take action (by pretending to be a friend or family member in need); or dangle fake information about a transaction or account (like a package delivery).

How to identify a fake text message.

Spam or fake text messages vary in form and content but there are some key guidelines to identify text scams. Here are some common examples:

The message has no relevance to you. 

The message is completely random, unprompted and has no connection to you or any activity you’ve undertaken. The spam text message will say you’ve won a contest, a prize or free money. An increasingly popular text scam is one which says there’s a delivery issue with a package. 

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Example:
 
HI Kate, this is Rob from Amazon. I've tried to deliver your package twice, but have been unable to do so. Can you please schedule here: u611.com/vtoRxPKJ17

 

The message is urgent or needs immediate action from you.

The message is urging you to act now. These types of fake text messages could pretend to be your bank or a government agency.

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Example:
 
TDBA: Your online account is under review. Suspicious activity detected. To recover visit open247-unlock.com. Immediate action required. Query: K3BV.
 

 

The text message contains misspellings or poor grammar.

Spam text messages can be identified by poor grammar, misspelled words and awkward use of language. Real text messages from legitimate businesses will use proper grammar, punctuation and spelling.

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 Example:
A not authorised attempt to logon your online was found. Please login and access via utt.in.6qnikk to secure your online.

 

 

The text message is coming from a strange phone number or suspicious email address. 

If a text message is coming from a lengthy and/or suspicious looking email address it is a spam text message.

Example:
 
Your iphone, gold, silver or pink is waiting. Get it here: s9gghj.com/778192871

 

 

The text message contains a suspicious link.

This is a huge warning sign. If the text message contains a suspicious looking link, it is a text scam. Do not click on the link or follow prompts from these fake text messages.

Example:
 
HI Nancy! We tried to reach you at your address to give you this j&zxy.info/xdbAAh6dr. It's about your test results.

 

 

Smishing and spam text examples

There are different kinds of smishing and spam texts. See below for definitions and examples, giving you an overview that’ll help you understand what these scams are.

Type Example
Spam text messages

Spam text messages can be defined as junk messages sent to a mobile phone as text messages through SMS (Short Message Service), without prior express permission or invitation from the receiver. Spam text messages often try  to trick you into giving them your personal information – things like your password, account number or Social Security number.

Some common spam text examples are:

  • Spam texts stating you’ve won something, the IRS is trying to contact you, you have a refund coming or asking you to verify your bank account
  • Spam texts also often say you have a package delivery, verify your email/icloud/android ID, or that a family member needs help urgently. 
  • Text scams often send fake billing statements.
  • Travel related text scams often send fake messages and deals from well known travel companies to try and get personal details or money from people.
  • Another popular text scam is one that claims you’ve won money. The text apparently comes from a well-known business but is a text scam aimed at getting your personal details. All types of text scams can lead to identity theft and can compromise your personal/financial information.
Smishing

Smishing is defined as the fraudulent practice of sending text messages purporting to be from reputable companies in order to induce individuals to reveal personal information, such as passwords or credit card numbers.

Some common examples of smishing include:

  • Spam text messages about bank notifications
  • Smishing text messages about package updates 
  • Spam text messages about act-now coupons and urgent warnings. 
  • If you receive any of these from unknown numbers, be suspicious, especially for financial texts. Call your bank or credit card company if you have any doubts or suspicions.
Type
Spam text messages

Spam text messages can be defined as junk messages sent to a mobile phone as text messages through SMS (Short Message Service), without prior express permission or invitation from the receiver. Spam text messages often try  to trick you into giving them your personal information – things like your password, account number or Social Security number.

Smishing

Smishing is defined as the fraudulent practice of sending text messages purporting to be from reputable companies in order to induce individuals to reveal personal information, such as passwords or credit card numbers.

Example
Spam text messages

Some common spam text examples are:

  • Spam texts stating you’ve won something, the IRS is trying to contact you, you have a refund coming or asking you to verify your bank account
  • Spam texts also often say you have a package delivery, verify your email/icloud/android ID, or that a family member needs help urgently. 
  • Text scams often send fake billing statements.
  • Travel related text scams often send fake messages and deals from well known travel companies to try and get personal details or money from people.
  • Another popular text scam is one that claims you’ve won money. The text apparently comes from a well-known business but is a text scam aimed at getting your personal details. All types of text scams can lead to identity theft and can compromise your personal/financial information.
Smishing

Some common examples of smishing include:

  • Spam text messages about bank notifications
  • Smishing text messages about package updates 
  • Spam text messages about act-now coupons and urgent warnings. 
  • If you receive any of these from unknown numbers, be suspicious, especially for financial texts. Call your bank or credit card company if you have any doubts or suspicions.

How to handle and block spam texts.

Knowing what to do and blocking spam texts is one of the best ways to prevent future spam texts and keep your information secure. We’ll be discussing general spam handling and text blocking on iPhones and blocking spam texts on Android phones. And of course, the resources Verizon has for you to block spam texts.

General tips to block spam texts

  • Don’t respond to unwanted/suspicious texts. (Not even to say STOP).
  • Report spammers to Verizon.
  • Filter potential spam texts with tools like Call Filter.
  • Block specific spammers in your My Verizon account. 

Blocking spam texts on iPhones

  • First, open Settings. 
  • Scroll down until you find Messages. Tap it.
  • Next, scroll down until you find "Filter Unknown Messages." Turn it on.
  • You’re done.
  • iOS users can also block persistent senders by using the "Block this Caller" function by pressing on the sending address at the top of the message and then “info” icon.   The option to “Block this Caller” is located at the bottom.

Note: 

After following the above steps, when you go into your messages app, you'll see two tabs at the top of the screen. On the left there’s the  "Contacts & SMS" tab. This tab will contain messages from contacts in your address book -- your known contacts. On the right you’ll see the new "Unknown Senders" tab. Now, if you receive a message from a sender who’s not in your address book, you won't get a notification. Instead, it will be dropped into this tab.

Blocking spam Texts on Android phones

  • Go to the Messaging app and tap the three dots icon in the upper right-hand of the screen.
  • Tap on “Settings,” and then tap on “Spam Protection.”
  • Scroll down until you find “Enable Spam Protection.”
  • Turn it on by swiping the button to the right.
  • You’re done. 

Note:

On an Android phone,  you will find several spam text blocking options including unknown callers, recent calls, or from your contact list. You can choose or manually enter a number you wish to block.

Verizon’s resources and services for blocking spam texts.

Verizon is committed to your privacy and safety. To that end, we have several resources to help you block spam texts, as well as phishing emails and robocalls. Some useful links are provided below. 

Phishing Scams

Account Safety FAQs

Spam Text Protection (article)

Understanding Scams

 

How to report spam text messages.

Spam text messages are on the rise. If you receive a suspicious text message claiming to be from Verizon, please forward it to us right away at S-P-A-M (7726). You can also report it to the Federal Trade CommissionVerizon will never ask for personal or account information by  text message. If you receive a spam text message you should send it to Verizon then DELETE IT IMMEDIATELY.

DO NOT:

  • Respond to the text message  in any way
  • Click any links
  • Open any attachments
  • Provide any data to any websites mentioned

Receiving a suspicious message typically will not put you at risk if you do not reply, click on links, or share any personal information. 

If you did click or provide personal information in response to a suspicious text message, you should contact us to help secure your account, and reach out to any financial institutions or other services you believe may be impacted. You can also download the My Verizon App for Android and iOS devices to access enhanced account security features and secure communications with Verizon. 

What is Consumer Peer-to-peer (P2P) messaging?

Peer-to-Peer messaging is text messages that are sent/received by consumers to other consumers using their wireless device.

What is Non-Consumer Application-to-Person (A2P) messaging?

A2P messaging is any other type of text message. The texts are sent to individuals from businesses, entities, and organizations, after the individual has opted in. A few examples are: Mobile Banking Alerts, Two Factor Authentication, Package Delivery Notifications, Appointment Reminders, School Notifications.

More information can be found related to A2P messaging at CTIA.org.

What are the different ways you can send/receive A2P messaging?

A2P messages can come from 5 or 6 digit number leased from a short code registry, (www.usshortcode.com), Toll free messaging  are from a text enabled Toll free number (8xx) and Ten Digit Long Code, commonly referred to as 10DLC messaging, which are numbers that look like traditional phone numbers.

I want to send Non-Consumer messages. How do I do this?

Verizon enables A2P messaging through aggregators partners using approved messaging channels. Aggregators listed have direct connectivity to Verizon’s Messaging Platform and can assist in obtaining a Short Code, 10 DLC or an 800 numbers. Infobip, Kaleyra, imimobile, Vibes, Sinch, Zipwhip, Syniverse. Messaging campaigns should meet guidelines outline in Industry Best Practices prior to sending messages to Verizon Customers.

What can I do if I receive unwanted messages I didn’t sign up for or messages that might be a scam? What can I do?

To opt out, reply to the message with STOP. If a text is sent through an approved messaging platform, your opt out request should be honored. You should also report the message as SPAM by forwarding it to 7726. This allows us to identify problematic messages and take action quickly.

What is Political Messaging?

Political Messaging are text messages from political campaigns or special interest groups. The text messages might be used to inform, engage or organize voter participation.

What steps should I take if I want to send political campaign messages?

If you are a message sender and you want to send your political campaign text messages through, please follow these:

  • Obtain a consumer’s opt-in consent to receive messages;
  • Ensure that consumers have the ability to opt-out from receiving all future messages from a particular message sender and honor consumer opt-outs; and
  • Take these steps described to not send unwanted messages.
  • Smishing & spam text messages FAQS

    Browse our frequesntly asked questions on smishing and spam text messages.

    Why am I getting spam text messages?

    Spam texts are both intrusive and pose a security threat. If you are getting spam texts, it’s more than likely that whoever is sending you a spam text message is trying to get access to your personal information—bank accounts, passwords, social security number, online IDs and more. Spam texts don’t come from another phone. They often come from a computer and are delivered to your phone using an email address or instant messaging account. At no cost to the sender!  

    How do I know if a scammer is texting me?

    There are many types of scam texts. But these 5 signs can help you identify if a scammer is texting you. 

    1. If a text message is legitimate, it's usually from a 10 digit number or a 5 to 6 digit short code.
    2. Family crisis texts. Receiving news of a family crisis that requires you to immediately take action—buy tickets, send money, give out your ID etc.
    3. Texts that say you have a refund waiting for you and want you to click on a link or take some sort of related action to “claim” your refund. 
    4. Another popular text scam is one where the scammer claims you’ve won a prize. And pushes you to claim your prize by taking action such as clicking on a link, downloading an attachment etc. 
    5. Government text scams are on the rise. Here the scammer claims to be from a government agency (like the IRS), and wants you to divulge sensitive personal information such as your bank details, SSN and more.

     

    How do I stop spam texts?

    On an Android phone, you can stop all potential spam messages from the Messages app. Just follow these steps:

    1. Tap the three-dot icon in the upper right of the app and select: Settings > Spam protection 
    2. Then  turn on the Enable spam protection switch. Your phone will now alert you if an incoming message is suspected of being spam.

    On an iPhone, you can stop spam texts by following these simple steps:

    1. Go to Settings and tap on Messages. 
    2. Scroll down to Filter Unknown Senders and toggle the setting on. Once you’ve done this, your iPhone will filter out spam texts. 

    What is a phishing text message?

    Phishing text messages, also known as SMS phishing or smishing, is the act of committing text message fraud to try to lure victims into revealing account information or installing malware. Phishing text messages attempt to steal credit card details or other sensitive information, by disguising themselves as a trustworthy organization or reputable person in a text message.

    What should I do if I get a spam text?

    If you receive any suspicious communications from someone who says they are Verizon, we want to know about it. Verizon will never ask for personal or account information by  text message. If you receive a spam text message you should forward it to Verizon right away at S-P-A-M (7726) then DELETE IT IMMEDIATELY

    DO NOT:

    • Respond to the text message in any way.
    • Click any links.
    • Open any attachments.
    • Provide any data to any websites mentioned.

    Receiving a suspicious message typically will not put you at risk if you do not reply, click on links, or share any personal information. 

    What happens if I open a scam text?

    If you did click or provide personal information in response to a suspicious text message, you should contact us to help secure your account, and reach out to any financial institutions or other services you believe may be impacted. You can also download the My Verizon App for Android and iOS devices to access enhanced account security features and secure communications with Verizon. If you receive a suspicious text message claiming to be from Verizon, please forward it to us right away at S-P-A-M (7726). You can also report it to the Federal Trade Commission