The Better Business Bureau is warning consumers about a new text message scam that seems so innocent, it’s tempting to reply. The con artists are using phony “wrong number” texts to lure victims into conversation and falling for a scam, according to the BBB.
How the scam works
You receive a text that reads something like this: “Hey, is this John? It’s Amanda. We chatted on Tinder before when I came to visit my cousin, but we never met irl. I’m back in town if you want to meet up this time. Are you free?”
If you reply to a text like this, even with a polite, “Sorry, wrong number,” the stranger responds anyway, seemingly ignoring your answer. Usually, you’ll receive a few compliments and some photos of “Amanda,” who appears to be a scantily clad blond woman. However, as word gets out about this scam, scammers will change up the names, backstory and photos.
If you continue to engage with the stranger, which is really a chat bot, it tries to trick you into registering for dating or adult websites. Your new “friend” will encourage you to sign up for a specific website to see more explicit photos, which may involve offering up your credit card num-ber. Considering the dubious nature of this scam, if you hand over your credit card information at any point, you could be putting yourself at risk for fraudulent charges and identity theft.
How to avoid the scam
• Ignore texts from strangers. If you receive a text from someone you don’t know, simply don’t reply. It’s the safest route. If you engage with scammers, even briefly, they will mark your number as active and you could receive even more shady texts in the future.
• Block numbers that appear to come from scammers. Unsolicited texts that look like they come from a chat bot or that ask you to click suspicious links are probably not safe. Block these numbers to prevent scammers from contacting you through them again.
• 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 have never met in person.
Learn more about how to identify scams at the BBB’s new Spot a Scam page. If you’ve spotted a scam – whether or not you’ve lost money – report it to BBB.org/ScamTracker. Your report can help others avoid falling victim to scams.
For more information on scams and how to avoid them, visit BBB.org/AvoidScams.