You receive a text message. Not a big deal. But when you check to see who sent it, you’re baffled. It shows your number as the sender. However, it also includes a link with a tempting promise. Should you click it to find out what this is all about?
Absolutely not, say experts. According to CBS News, Verizon customers have filed numerous complaints about receiving text messages that seem to come from their own numbers. The links in these “spoof” SMS messages promise a free gift for being a valued customer of the phone service.
Twitter users like Jason Rabinowitz have gone to Twitter to complain about the scam:
So many technological failures involved in letting someone spam people by spoofing their own number while the phone’s OS thinks that maybe, just maybe, it was actually me texting myself but it can’t be sure. pic.twitter.com/J5rbZ41BB9
— Jason Rabinowitz (@AirlineFlyer) March 29, 2022
However, many people who tap on those links are not taken to a gift redemption website. Instead, their web browsers open on a Russian state-operated live TV broadcast, as Verge reported. This is especially alarming since the White House has cautioned businesses to prepare for cyberattacks following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.
According to the FBI, spoofing is when someone disguises their information, such as an email address or phone number, to convince the recipient that they are interacting with a trusted source. They do this to trick people into downloading malicious software, disclosing sensitive information, sending money or taking other detrimental actions. The agency warns against clicking on anything in an unsolicited email or text message.
“Verizon is aware that bad actors are sending spam text messages to some customers which appear to come from the customers’ own number,” the company wrote in emails to media outlets such as CBS MoneyWatch and The Verge. “Our team is actively working to block these messages, and we have engaged with U.S. law enforcement to identify and stop the source of this fraudulent activity. Verizon continues to work on behalf of the customer to prevent spam texts and related activity.”
While Verizon is the service provider noticing this trend, it could happen on any phone service. Of course, you can’t block the sender when it’s your number. Verizon reps state that the best thing to do is delete any message you receive that looks like you sent it to yourself.
In addition, the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) states three ways to report unwanted text messages:
- You can report it within your phone’s messaging app. On an iPhone, tap the Report Junk link under the message. On an Android phone, touch and hold the message, and then select Block > Report spam > OK.
- You can forward the message to 7726 (SPAM) so that your phone carrier can investigate.
- Finally, you can report it to the FTC at ReportFraud.ftc.gov.
Stay safe out there!