TECH BYTE: Don’t Fall for Political Texting Scams

CHATTANOOGA, Tenn. (WDEF) — The mid-term election is almost here, which means our phones are blowing up with political texts.

Yes, they’re annoying, and some could even be scams.

But there are things you can do to keep from falling for them.

If you’ve been bombarded with political texts lately, you’re not alone.

iconectiv VP George Cray says it’s an easy way to reach people.

“We see that playing out as opposed to, let’s say, voice calls or e-mails. They’re choosing to use text,” Cray said. “The problem is many texts come across with just that 10 digit number that you have no clue who the sender is. And really, there is no way to validate whether it should be trusted.”

That’s why scammers are now taking advantage of our love for texting.

More of them are posing as candidates and campaigns.

According to iconectiv, Americans lost $86 million last election cycle from texting scams.

Cray believes this year might not be any better. There’s a good response rate with texting.

“The only reason I would say it probably is worse is the amount of texting being used by scammers has gone up,” he said. “How successful they are at actually defrauding the U.S. population, I don’t know. But my sense of them kind of shifting to texting is definitely a trend that we’ve seen, and a lot of that is because they’re working so hard to block robocalls and so many other mechanisms.”

So how do we keep from getting scammed then?

Cray says to be wary of any texts you get from senders not in your contacts.

“Even if you like the text and its content, if you don’t know the sender, I really wouldn’t want to be reacting via that message in chat,” Cray said. “I’d want to go outside of that to validate. Was the link that was provided really the website for the candidate, or are they just trying to redirect you to, you know, effectively a scam?”

And it’s not always money scammers are after. It’s also important to watch out for misinformation.

“Maybe to tell you that the polling place changed and they would never text you with that information, but they’re trying to maybe keep you from voting. So there’s all different things that may be happening, which is why you should be wary and not just assume it’s coming from a believable source.”

Cray also advises not to click on any links sent in a text from an unknown sender, since it’s possible they could download a virus onto your phone.

“Whether, again, it’s identity fraud, whether it’s stealing money or whether it’s just, as you said, some sort of virus that could infect your phone, all of these would end up costing you dearly,” he said.

If you get a text that looks suspicious, Cray says it’s easy to report it to the CTIA. Just text 7726, or SPAM.

Some other tips? Don’t engage or respond.

Cray says it’s best to just ignore the message or phone call altogether.

It also doesn’t hurt to block the number, and delete the message from your phone.

It’s one less person trying to scam you.

Categories: Local News, Tech Byte, Technology