In recent days, a new wave of scam text messages has been targeting Kiwis from Australian numbers, causing concern among authorities and individuals alike. These scam text messages often claim that the recipient has an unpaid fine, toll, or interest, and urge them to click on a link to avoid further penalties.
Unfortunately, these messages are nothing more than a ploy by cybercriminals seeking to steal personal information or extort money from unsuspecting victims. In this article, we’ll delve into the mechanics of these scam text messages and provide tips for identifying and avoiding them.
If you’ve received a suspicious text message or want to protect yourself and your loved ones from falling victim to this latest scam alert, read on to learn more about the rising threat of cybercrime and how you can stay safe.
The Mechanics of the Scam Text Messages
So, how do these scam text messages work, and what are cybercriminals hoping to achieve with them?
The first step in the process is for scammers to obtain a list of phone numbers to target. This can be done through a variety of means:
- Buying lists of phone numbers on the dark web.
- Using automated tools to generate random numbers.
- Stealing phone numbers from databases or social media accounts.
Once scammers have a list of phone numbers, they’ll send out a barrage of text messages, often using fake or spoofed Australian phone numbers to give the impression of legitimacy.
The messages themselves will typically be designed to instill a sense of urgency or fear in the recipient, such as claiming that they have an unpaid fine or that their bank account has been compromised.
The images displayed below capture the essence of the fraudulent messages sent by scammers. Take a closer look and familiarize yourself with the tactics they employ.
To add to the authenticity of the message, scammers may also include a fraudulent link that appears to lead to a government website or legitimate business.
However, this link is designed to trick the recipient into providing sensitive information, such as login credentials or credit card details, which can then be used for identity theft or financial fraud.
In some cases, the link may even lead to a malware download that infects the recipient’s phone with a virus or ransomware, locking them out of their own device until they pay a ransom to the scammers.
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How to Identify and Avoid Scam Text Messages
Most of the time, the person has no idea how to recognize the authenticity of the messages and easily falls into the trap. Here are some examples you can use as references. If you also receive that kind of message then you are also on the list of targets.
The best way to protect yourself from scam text messages is to be able to identify them and avoid falling for them in the first place. Here are some tips on how to do so:
1️⃣ Be wary of Urgent Messages:
Scammers often use urgent language and threats of legal action to pressure recipients into taking immediate action. Be cautious of any message claiming you must act immediately to avoid consequences.
2️⃣ Verify the Sender’s Identity:
One of the easiest ways to identify a scam text message is to verify the sender’s identity. Scammers often use fake or spoofed phone numbers and email addresses to deceive their victims.
Be cautious of messages that claim to be from government agencies or financial institutions, especially if they ask for personal information or immediate action.
To confirm the authenticity of the message, you can call the company or agency’s official phone number. In addition, you can also check their official website for any alerts or notifications.
If the message claims to be from a reputable organization, such as a bank or a government agency, but the number is unfamiliar or doesn’t match the organization’s official contact information, it’s likely a scam.
3️⃣ Verify the Message with the Sender:
If you receive a message from a sender that you know, but the content of the message seems suspicious, don’t hesitate to verify it with the sender.
You should contact them through a different channel, such as a phone call or an email, and ask them if they sent the message. This can help you avoid falling for a scam that was sent from a hacked account.
4️⃣ Check the Domain and URL:
Scammers often use fake websites and domains to lure their victims into clicking on a link. To check the legitimacy of a URL, hover your mouse over the link without clicking it.
The preview window should show you the destination URL. Check if the domain matches the legitimate website, and if the URL contains any suspicious characters or extensions.
Be especially cautious of URLs that end in unusual extensions such as .life, .top, or .xyz, as these are commonly used by scammers.
5️⃣ Don’t Click on Suspicious Links:
Scam text messages often contain links to fraudulent websites that are designed to steal your personal information. These websites may look legitimate, but they’re actually phishing sites that are designed to trick you into giving away sensitive data. If you receive a message with a link that seems suspicious, don’t click on it.
6️⃣ Don’t Share Personal Information:
Scammers often use phishing techniques to steal personal and financial information from their victims. They may ask for passwords, credit card numbers, or social security numbers under the guise of a legitimate request.
Never share your personal information with anyone online or over the phone, unless you are sure of their identity and legitimacy. If you suspect that your personal information has been compromised, contact your bank or credit card company immediately.
7️⃣ Check for spelling and grammar errors:
Scammers often make mistakes in their messages, such as typos or grammatical errors. If you notice any of these, it could be a sign that the message is not legitimate.
By following these simple precautions, you can minimize the risk of falling victim to scam text messages and other types of cybercrime. Remember to stay vigilant and report any suspicious messages to the appropriate authorities.
What to Do If You’ve Fallen for the Scam
Scam text messages can be convincing, and despite your best efforts to avoid them, you may still fall victim to one. If you do, it’s important to act quickly to limit the damage. Here are some steps to follow if you’ve fallen for the scam:
Contact Your Bank or Financial Institution:
If you have provided scammers with your bank or credit card details, contact your bank or financial institution immediately. They will be able to advise you on the best course of action to protect your accounts and prevent any unauthorized transactions.
Report the Scam:
In New Zealand, you can report unwanted or spam text messages to the Department of Internal Affairs by forwarding the message to the number 7726 (In some mobile phones, you have to save this number in order to forward the spam text messages, for example, ‘Spam Text NZ’ in this case).
You need to follow some simple steps and this will report the message to officials, who will investigate it and take necessary actions.
Additionally, you can contact the New Zealand Department of Internal Affairs’ Electronic
Messaging the Compliance team at email@example.com to report any scam or spam text
messages you receive. They work to investigate and take action against senders of unsolicited messages.
Change Your Passwords:
If you have provided login details for any online accounts, change your passwords immediately. Choose strong, unique passwords for each account, and avoid using the same password across multiple accounts.
After falling for a scam, it’s important to be extra vigilant about any future messages or emails you receive. Scammers may try to target you again, using the information they have already obtained. Be suspicious of any unsolicited messages or emails, and don’t click on any links or attachments unless you are absolutely sure they are legitimate.
By following these steps, you can minimize the damage caused by falling for a scam and prevent further attacks. It’s important to act quickly and decisively to protect your finances and personal information.
How to Prevent Scam Text Messages?
As scam text messages continue to proliferate and target unsuspecting individuals, the use of technology has become an important tool in the fight against this form of cybercrime. Here are some of the preventive steps you can apply to combat scam text messages:
Spam Filters and Blacklists:
Mobile service providers have implemented spam filters that can automatically detect and block known scam text messages. These filters can also block numbers and domains that have been identified as sources of spam and scam messages.
Two-factor authentication is a security measure that requires users to provide two forms of identification before accessing their accounts. This can help prevent scammers from gaining access to personal information or financial accounts even if they have obtained login credentials through a phishing scam.
Use Antivirus Software:
Antivirus software can help protect your device and personal information from malicious software and viruses. Make sure to keep your antivirus software updated and scan your device regularly for any threats. Additionally, make sure to keep your device’s operating system and apps updated to the latest version, as these often contain security patches and bug fixes.
Use third-party Apps:
There are several third-party apps that can help block spam messages on your smartphone. Some popular options include Hiya, Truecaller, and RoboKiller. These apps use algorithms to identify and block known spam numbers.
Public Awareness Campaigns:
Social media campaigns, public service announcements, and educational materials can help individuals recognize the signs of a scam and take steps to protect themselves. In addition, you can also get information from Reddit, Quora, Facebook, and WhatsApp groups.
As scammers continue to develop new tactics and technology advances, it’s important to take preventive steps to protect yourself from becoming a victim of a scam text message.
To conclude this article, it’s essential to remember that scam text messages are a real threat, and they can cause significant harm to individuals and businesses. The scammers’ tactics are becoming more sophisticated, and it’s critical to remain vigilant and informed about the latest scamming techniques.
By following the tips outlined in this article, you can protect yourself and your loved ones from falling prey to these scams. Remember to always be skeptical of unsolicited messages, never click on suspicious links, and report any suspicious activity to the appropriate authorities. Stay safe, stay informed, and share this article to spread awareness.