Protect Yourself – New wave of SMS scams hits NJ

A new wave of “phishing” text messages appears to be hitting New Jersey.

This past weekend my phone was bombarded with a series of text messages trying to get me to correct or verify information on various accounts.

Luckily, these messages weren’t particularly convincing, making it easy to tell that it was a scam. However, someone who is not paying close attention could accidentally click on the link contained in the text.

City Square Media Illustration

Test messages/phishing attempt actually received

These fake text messages are at least annoying, but they can also be extremely dangerous.

Consumer advocates warn against clicking on a link contained in these SMS. Aside from trying to trick you into giving them your personal information like bank account numbers and passwords, clicking the link could also compromise your phone and all the data on it.

Malware, spyware or ransomware could be installed on your phone. If your phone is then connected to your home wireless network, any device that is also on that network could be vulnerable. This includes your home computer, tablets, and even wireless security cameras and other electronic devices.

If you receive any of these text messages, simply delete them and block the number in your phone’s settings.

The Federal Trade Commission has noticed an increase in the number of text scams, many of which claim to be from well-known brand names and companies

“These unexpected texts from the Postal Service (USPS), Costco, or The Home Depot notifying you of an unclaimed package or survey you can fill out to claim a giveaway are NOT from them,” the FTC wrote in its website, “It’s a scam.”

Details vary, the FTC says, but scammers are after the same thing: your money and personal information.

If you receive any of these texts, report them to the FTC at ReportFraud.ftc.gov.

In case you have fallen for one of these scams, there are a few things you can do. Immediately review your bank and credit accounts, looking for unauthorized charges. If you sent money, it’s probably gone and can’t be recovered.

The FTC has some additional steps you can take if you’ve been a victim of one of these scams on their website.

Eric Scott is Senior Political Director and Moderator for New Jersey 101.5. You can reach him at [email protected]

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