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How to Identify and Avoid SMS Scams

How to Identify and Avoid SMS Scams

Mobile devices have become ubiquitous in people’s daily lives. They use phones to browse online or connect with other people through email, calls, or text messages.

As such, it’s no surprise for you to receive unwanted text messages like marketing promo from a brand or worse, SMS scams, every now and then. Take a look at some of the common text message scam tactics below to spot and avoid SMS scams quickly.

Suspiciously long number

Whenever you receive a text message from an unknown sender, take a close look at the number. If the number is unusually long compared to official and legitimate marketing shortcodes, chances are it’s a scam.

Family emergency texts

One of the most common SMS scam tactics in the book are random family emergency texts. Scammers do this by sending a text message stating an immediate family member who lives in a location or is traveling to a location got into an accident. Then, they will ask for money transfer to help them out of it. Since it sounds real and can cause the victim to act irrationally, it works.

Contest winner

This SMS scam informs targets that they’ve won a prize or a giveaway, along with instruction on how to claim it. It often includes a hyperlink, which aims to gain the target’s personal information. If you didn’t enter any contest, it’s best to ignore the message. If you’re not completely sure, get in touch with the company or brand through other channels.

Account reactivation scam

This scam notifies targets that their account has been accessed using another device or has been compromised. As a result, it is deactivated for the owner’s protection. It looks legitimate at first, but the suspicious link or reactivation instructions can give away that it’s a scam. In case you receive this, check the account mentioned to ensure it’s still secure. Then, ignore and block the number.

To help you identify the different types of SMS scams and for some quick tips on how to stay safe online, check out the infographic below.


How to Identify and Avoid SMS Scams [Infographic] - Semaphore

Unwanted messages, calls, emails, and solicitations bombard people on a regular basis. Those who know better simply hit delete or ignore them, quickly identifying that these are scams. However, not everyone is as well-informed when it comes to identifying such schemes, especially in times of crisis like the COVID-19 pandemic.

About The Author

Cyber Geek Girl

Lisa Ventura (AKA ‘Cyber Geek Girl’) is a Content Marketer, PR, Digital and Cyber Security professional, and is an active blogger and influencer. She loves technology, gadgets, sci-fi, heavy metal music and is fascinated by hacking/cyber security and nuclear war. ‘Cyber Geek Girl’ is Lisa's window to her world and contains articles, reviews, advice, interviews, hints and tips on a variety of different topics and subjects that she is passionate about. Lisa loves dogs and is the proud owner of a GSD/Husky cross dog called Poppy, who is her world. She can be contacted via

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About Me

Lisa Ventura (AKA ‘Cyber Geek Girl’) is an award-winning Cyber Security Awareness Consultant, CEO & Founder of the UK Cyber Security Association, a published author and blogger/thought leader in cyber security.



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