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Voice of the consumer: Number of text message scams increasing

11 Call For Action lead investigator Katie Pelton.
11 Call For Action lead investigator Katie Pelton.(KKTV)
Published: Dec. 6, 2021 at 7:10 AM MST
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Our 11 News Call For Action team pens a weekly column for our news partner The Gazette. Previous columns can be found here.

COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. (KKTV) - How many of you have received a scam through a text message? Well, you are not alone. I get them all the time, too. The experts in Colorado tell me they are seeing an increasing amount of text message scams right now, and there is one in particular we want to warn you about this week.

“There’s lots of scams right now that are starting as text messages, so scams that we might be more familiar with coming as a phishing type of email are often now coming as text messages,” said Mark Fetterhoff with AARP ElderWatch Colorado. “I think scammers are noting that more people are using text message rather than email than they ever have before.”

In particular, scams where it appears you are getting a text message from your bank can be one of the most alarming.

“So, what’s happening is scammers will pose as a major bank, like Chase or Bank of America or Wells Fargo, that people are familiar with, and then they will say there’s something wrong or there’s been a fraudulent charge on your account, and usually have them call a phone number or click on a link to resolve the problem,” said Fetterhoff. “We’re seeing a lot of these right now, and they’re very convincing and very tricky. I highly recommend people use extra caution when receiving text messages claiming to be from their bank.”

The Federal Trade Commission said sometimes the message will say they’ve noticed suspicious activity on your account, they will claim there’s a problem with your account, or they might say you need to confirm certain information. The message might include a fake invoice or even offer you a coupon for free stuff.

I have received a text like this before. If you get one, don’t reply to the message or call the number, and don’t click any links. Instead, call your bank using a trusted, legitimate number to make sure there’s nothing wrong with your account.

“If you have not signed up with your bank to receive text messages about different types of charges coming in, you shouldn’t expect to receive one,” said Fetterhoff. “A really important thing people should do is not act on whatever it says in that text message, and verify with your bank — whether it be online or over the phone — that there are not any pending charges on your account. Most likely, in these situations with these very tricky text messages, there’s not going to be.

“We’ve talked to plenty of people, as part of our helpline, who have called in and said that they have followed the instructions of these types of text messages, and then had a lot of problems afterwards, people draining their accounts and different issues like that.”

If you lose money to a scam, you should report it to your local law enforcement. You can also report scams and fraud to the Colorado Attorney General’s Office at 800-222-4444. Press option 2 to speak with AARP ElderWatch.

If you missed our annual special about the top scams and consumer issues of 2021, you can watch it on kktv.com. Just click on the red “Find It” tab.

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