How To Protect Yourself From SMS Scams

By Alex Alabiso

January 10, 2024   •   Fact checked by Dumb Little Man

how to identify a fake text message

Smartphones and cell phones have changed the way we communicate. We can instantly send and receive messages through wireless calls, text messages or SMS, email, and social media platforms. With the advancements of technology, there are advantages and disadvantages—and sometimes danger.

SMS scams or text scams are prevalent in this age of smartphones and cell phones. Many scams are SMS marketing; some are more deceitful.

SMS marketing is sending promotional campaigns for marketing purposes via text messages. These messages are meant to communicate time-sensitive offers, updates, and alerts to potential or established customers.

Businesses use SMS marketing because it is one of the more effective forms of communicating with customers when done correctly. When done incorrectly, these can be viewed as unwanted messages and solicitations that bombard people regularly.

SMS scams are a problem because more and more people are using mobile banking and online shopping, making them easier targets for scammers and fraudsters. There are different types of scams people need to be aware of.

identifying a fake text message

  • Spam SMS messages usually notify the receiver that he/she won a prize and ask them to reply with personal information, including bank or credit card details.
  • Phishing is a method used by scammers by sending messages that pretend to be from a reputable company or someone the receiver knows and asks them to verify something with their personal details like passwords or bank information.
  • SMS spoofing is when the scammer sends text messages carrying the name or number of a well-known brand or company.
  • SMS Malware attacks are mobile malware scams that send out unsafe links. Some scammers will use specific tactics to get people to do something they aren’t aware are dangerous.
  • Family emergency is one of the most common ruses. The message will say that the recipient’s loved one got into an accident or is in trouble and needs immediate financial help. In a panic, the victim will then send what is being asked of them in the hopes of helping their loved ones, not realizing they are being duped.
  • Refund scam. The message will tell the victim that they will receive a refund from a service provider but need certain information for it to be processed. Using the information provided, the fraudster will gain access to the victim’s account. Do not respond to these types of texts and do not give away personal information right away.
  • Reactivation scam. The message will tell the victim that their account has been compromised and asks them to text a code or reset their password through a suspicious link to reactivate their “account.”
  • Prize scam. The scammer sends the victim a text message saying that they’ve won a prize or holiday getaway from a contest they didn’t enter. The text will also contain a link where the victim will input their personal information that the scammer will use to their advantage.
  • Parcel delivery scam. With online shopping and delivery becoming more prevalent today, scammers can now send fake messages imitating official couriers but will ask for additional information or extra charges from the recipient to ensure the delivery of their packages.

If you receive these text messages or anything similar, here are some ways to avoid falling into these SMS scams.

how to know a fake text message

  • Be on the lookout for unusual or unknown numbers. Most brands and companies will use verified numbers or use less than ten digits. If the number seems iffy, ignore or delete these messages or best to block.
  • Check for grammatical and spelling mistakes. All companies and brands use copywriters and editors to create marketing messages. Scammers will often make spelling and grammatical errors. This may seem simple, but it’s the easiest way to identify SMS scams.
  • Double-check messages. Recall if you’ve entered a contest or if there even really is one from a particular brand or company. If there isn’t, then it is definitely a scam. Report it to the proper authorities or the company itself so that they can warn their other customers of such activity.
  • Don’t click any links. If you received any SMS that contains a link, don’t click on it, as it is designed to steal information or spread malware. But do regularly change or update passwords of your online accounts or emails to make it more difficult for hackers to access these.
  • Don’t trust text messages that contain your name. Just because a text message has your name doesn’t make it genuine or legitimate. Chances are the scammer got your name from social media or other sources.
  • Verify the authenticity of the company or the sender. If you do not recognize the name of the company or brand that sent you the text message, do some digging to check if they have an official website or social media channels or if the company really exists.
  • Always verify the messages you received. Check with your relatives or friends if they are indeed in need of any assistance. Report these fraudulent messages to the telecommunication carrier you are using or your local government agency handling fraud cases.

Protect Your Information At All Times

Being alert and suspicious go a long way to protecting yourself from fraudsters who are taking advantage of technology to fool people out of their money. Verify details before establishing contact with anyone over the phone, SMS, or online.

Alex Alabiso

Alex built Semaphore's tech backbone and keeps it running smoothly. In his spare time, he grows hydroponic tomatoes and plays video games. See more of his content at

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