A new text message scam has been making the rounds this month, with seemingly innocent content that’s putting your private information at risk. Better Business Bureau is warning consumers to be wary of this tempting scam.
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,” or another name who appears to be a scantily clad woman. The names, backstory, and photos will follow a similar script, but may be different.
One consumer told BBB Mountain West that he initially felt bad for the girl — in his case, Alyssa — and assumed she had been given a wrong number by the man she was trying to reach, “Dominick.” In his message, the dating app was Bumble, and the relative was an aunt instead of a cousin, but the idea was the same. He became suspicious when a photo of a pretty girl was sent immediately after his response with no other context, and blocked the number.
If you continue to engage with the stranger, who 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 number. 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 Chat Bot Scams
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 a scammer, even briefly, they will mark your number as active and you could receive even more shady texts in the future. Be wary of people who continue to engage in conversation after you’ve informed them they have the wrong number.
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 on 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, your full name, home address, or social security number with someone you never met in person.
Never click on links from unsolicited messages. Just a simple click can give the scammer access to all your personal information.
For More Information
Read the BBB Tip: Spot the red flags of fake text messages. Read more about similar scams, such as text messages with surprise offers or mandatory COVID tests.
If you’ve been the victim of a text message scam, report it at BBB.org/ScamTracker. Your report can help expose scammers’ tactics so others won’t fall prey.
ABOUT BBB: For more than 100 years, the Better Business Bureau has been helping people find businesses, brands, and charities they can trust. In 2020, people turned to BBB more than 220 million times for BBB Business Profiles on 6.2 million businesses and Charity Reports on 11,000 charities, all available for free at BBB.org. Today, BBB serving Northern Nevada and Utah is supported by nearly 4,000 Accredited Businesses that have voluntarily committed to adhere to BBB’s Standards for Trust.