The Better Business Bureau serving the Canton and Greater West Virginia area offers tips and advice for consumers to avoid fraudulent practices.
Scammers have long used social media to impersonate people you know and trust, but they’ve recently used a new tactic: spoofed caller ID text messages. This scam can be difficult to spot at first glance, so pay attention to the warning signs.
How the scam works
You receive a text message displayed on your phone from “Mom” (or in other variations, “Dad”.) According to the message, “Mom” is at the store, but she left her credit card home by accident. Could you send her $150 to complete her shopping?
The request seems innocuous, but do not make it! The scammers spoofed the caller ID to appear as “Mom” or “Dad”. They rely on the fact that many people have saved “Dad” or “Mom” in their contact list. Scammers hope you won’t think twice or check the phone number before sending help. If you transfer money to a bank or a digital wallet account, your money will be permanently lost. (BBB.org/article/scams/13038-how-to-avoid-digital-wallet-scams-on-paypal-venmo-and-other-services)
How to spot this scam
- If something in a message is unusual, treat it as a red flag – If your parents never text, they’re probably not the ones texting now. On the other hand, if they text all the time but never ask for money, you’re probably dealing with a copycat.
- Find a new message thread – If you regularly text your parents, you should be able to see their previous messages. If you don’t see any of the previous messages, it’s probably a scammer contacting you for the first time.
- Check sender information – Click on the sender’s information to make sure the name matches your parent’s real phone number.
- Call your parents to confirm the story – Find their number in your contact list and call them to confirm if the message is from them.
- Don’t be fooled if a scammer has personal information about you – Due to data breaches and social media posts, scammers can get their hands on some of your personal information, including your name and your parents’ names.
- If you suspect a scam, do not reply to the message – Simply block the number and delete the message. If you respond, scammers will know your number is active and may target you with scams in the future.
For more information
If you’ve been the victim of a scam, report it at BBB.org/ScamTracker. Your report can help others avoid being scammed. Learn more ways scammers use texting in BBB Scam Alert: It’s Not Your Boss Texting (BBB.org/article/scams/26554-bbb-scam-alert-thats- not-your-boss-texting). Find more helpful tips in BBB’s tip for spotting fake SMS red flags (BBB.org/all/spot-a-scam/how-to-spot-a-phony-text-message).
For information BBB
Visit BBB.org/canton or call 330-454-9401 to find a business, file a complaint, write a customer review, read tips, find our events, follow us on social media, and more!