I didn’t respond, but many people who have received similar texts have. Some even thwart their spammers by making up ridiculous stories and sending hilarious messages. They are fighting back with snark and in some cases posting screenshots of their conversations online.
Jack Whittaker, a PhD student in sociology at the University of Surrey, said spam texting was on the rise, as was the number of people fighting back through “scams”, which refer to “the waste of criminals’ time”. who is studying this phenomenon. However, experts say replies will undermine this, as it will open up people to more spam texts.
Spam text messages that try to trick recipients into giving up valuable information are not new. Some of the earliest digital spam was sent via email chain letters, the most notorious of which involved someone posing as a Nigerian prince claiming to need the recipient’s help to deposit a large sum of money.
Once smartphones became common, scammers turned to texting. By 2022, spam will be more personalized. They often mimic misleading text, perhaps addressing the recipient by the wrong name or using a generic first line (“How are you doing” or “I had a good time tonight!” is common) to prompt a reply.
If you’ve received any of these messages recently, you’re not alone. “The number of spam text messages has exploded,” said J. Michael Skiba, a professor at Colorado State University who specializes in cybercrime and international financial fraud. Globally, 90 billion copies were sent last year, he said. In the US, 47 billion spam text messages were sent from January 2021 to October 2021, a 55% increase over the same period in 2020. According to spam blocking company RoboKiller, Scam text messages cost $86 million in 2020 in the US alone“People are just bombarded with these,” Skiba said.
From a scammer’s point of view, texting has several advantages over email, Skiba said — a note for a phone number raises less suspicion than a sketchy email address, and the casual nature of texting makes grammatical errors less likely. So obvious. Many also have a very human urge to respond to texts. “It’s a mental trick because you know the text isn’t correct, but it draws your help and says, ‘You got the wrong number,'” Skiba said.
However, someone on the other side is likely to be working with a group of organized scammers in a call center and wants you to be accurate. One reply is enough for scammers to verify that the phone number is real. This reaction can lead to a domino effect that may invite more spam text messages to your phone. Ultimately, scammers want to at least verify your number in order to sell it to other groups; getting your personal information is a sweet bonus.
“I 100% recommend not responding at all,” Skiba said.