Jimmy Patronis, BBB Warn of Text Message Scams

This week, state Chief Financial Officer (CFO) Jimmy Patronis highlighted a recent article by the Better Business Bureau (BBB) that is advising consumers to beware of text message scams.

Recently, scammers have been impersonating well-known companies and offering discounts in the hope that consumers will act on the deal without doing their research, some of which are COVID-19 themed.

“The scammers are at it again and this time they’re impersonating some of your favorite stores with a tricky text message scheme,” Patronis said on Tuesday. The scam works by sending a text to a consumer about a great deal from what looks like Walmart, Verizon, Amazon, or Costco, but really it’s just a way for hackers to steal your personal account information.

“Due to the pandemic and with more and more Floridians paying bills and shopping on their mobile device, scam text messages like this are on the rise. That’s why it’s important for consumers to remember to never click on a link in an unexpected text message. If you receive a text message that you believe may be fraudulent, verify it by contacting the company using a website or phone number that you know is real. If you are suspicious of fraud, report it immediately at FraudFreeFlorida.com. Always remember to stay on guard and verify before you buy. If an offer sounds too good to be true, it probably is,” Patronis added.

BBB’s Tips on How to Avoid Text Message Scams:

• Treat messages from unknown senders with caution. If you receive a message from a number you don’t recognize, be careful. Many companies engage in SMS marketing, but keep in mind that consumers must opt in to receive messages. If you haven’t given a company permission to text you, it’s probably a scam.

• Don’t click on links from strangers. Scammers often send shortened links that don’t let you see where they really lead in the body of their text message. If you click the link, you could be directed to a dangerous website, or you could download malware onto your device.

• Confirm deals directly with the company before you accept. If you are really hoping the deal is legitimate, go to the company’s official website and send them an email, or call to inquire. The company can let you know if the deal is real or not.

• Install antivirus software on your computer and mobile devices. This kind of scam can come from text messages or emails, so make sure all your electronics are protected. Antivirus software can scan for malware and alert you before you open a malicious website link.

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