KSL INVESTIGATES

Gephardt: Scam Texts Are On The Rise – Here’s What You Can Do

Mar 26, 2021, 5:46 PM | Updated: 8:52 pm

SALT LAKE CITY, Utah – If it feels like your phone is just getting flooded with tons of annoying texts, you are not alone. Countless Utahns are getting scam, spam and phishing texts daily.

Anecdotally, we have heard from many people who say they will not answer unknown calls because of the robocall onslaught. Does that mean the scammers have switched to text messages to reach us?

From promises of cash, earbuds from Amazon, job opportunities and out-of-the-blue shipment notices, Alex Quilici is one of those who have noticed the uptick in scammy, or at least spammy, text messages.

“We are seeing an increase in scam text messages,” said Quilici, CEO of YouMail, a robocall blocking service. While their focus is robocalls, Quilici is hearing from customers who want to know how they can block unwanted texts.

“We’re hearing that text messages are increasing fairly quickly,” Quilici elaborated. “And I know that on my own phone I’m starting to see them too. So they’re around and increasing.”

In fact, cybersecurity experts have reported more than a 300% increase in the number of text message scams since last summer.

“The whole point of a robocall is to get someone to press one or to call you back. If you don’t have a call center someone to answer the phone when they do that, the robocall is pointless,” said Quilici. “And so that’s why we saw a lot fewer robocalls during the pandemic and they’re ramping right back up.”

Quilici attributed the sudden spike to scammers getting back to the office. Many of them worked in call centers, which were also shut down during the pandemic.

Now, with our cell phone carriers warning us that an incoming call is likely spam, it seems the crooks are evolving to more bogus texts.

Example of a text that's trying to steal your information. (KSL TV) Example of a text that's trying to steal your information. (KSL TV)

“People stopped answering their phones and so it becomes much harder for a robocaller to get through. If a consumer is running a robocall blocking app like YouMail and they’re not answering any other call that gets through, how do I get through to that consumer?” said Quilici. “We’ve sort of defending the voice channel which is forcing them to go elsewhere. I suspect they’re finding that text messages are a way to get through.”

Quilici said blocking bogus texts is harder than blocking robocalls at the moment, so the best defense, for now, is to assume every text you get from a sender you don’t recognize, “might” be from someone trying to rip you off.

One widespread scam hitting phones now is an Amazon delivery notification that asks you to confirm your ID by clicking on the link so you can receive your package. In fact, the Better Business Bureau this past week alerted consumers to another Amazon ruse that provides consumers with a link to claim a pair of EarPods they have just won in a raffle. In both cases, clicking the provided link will take you to a phishing site.

In a similar scam, fraudsters also send out texts claiming to be from USPS, FedEx or UPS that contain an urgent update asking consumers to verify their identities by clicking a link in the text.

Scammers are also pretending to be from Netflix, warning you of a payment issue with your card and so you need to click a link that will take you to a phished Netflix website where you will enter your real account credentials — including payment card and password, which then gets stolen.

What can you do about it? One option is to change your phone settings so it only accepts texts from numbers you know.

“It varies by handset OS,” said Quilici. “For example, on iPhone, it is possible to programmatically give the device a list of numbers to block, and it will block them.  We actually have an option in our (YouMail) app to do just this. On Android, you can create a messaging app that filters out unwanted texts, but it has to become the texting app the users use. So, it’s a bit trickier.”

There are also some apps you can pay for that claim to filter out robotexts. Lastly, you can help stop unwanted texts by becoming a tattletale. Cell phone carriers as well as the FTC have ways you can report bogus texts and get the numbers shut down.

KSL 5 TV Live

Top Stories

KSL Investigates

After a contractor got paid, customers say he stopped responding and walked off the job. (KSL TV)...
Matt Gephardt and Cindy St. Clair

Felony charges for contractor accused of ripping off several Utahns

After a contractor got paid, customers say he stopped responding and walked off the job. A Get Gephardt investigation found this particular contractor has walked off so many jobs it could land him behind bars.
1 day ago
Christopher Browning in court....
Daniella Rivera & Keira Farrimond

Police were warned rapist could reoffend 24 years ago. Now he’s charged again.

A convicted rapist paroled in December faced a Utah judge today on 10 new felony charges including aggravated sexual assault and kidnapping.
2 days ago
...
Matt Gephardt and Cindy St. Clair

After new homes flood, residents question if builder or Mother Nature is to blame

Several new homes in a Lehi community flooded during rainstorms earlier this month. When they say the home builder told them they weren’t responsible, they decided to Get Gephardt to investigate.
3 days ago
...
Matt Gephardt

Get Gephardt: The ‘most used’ photos to catfish victims in romance scams

KSL Investigator Matt Gephardt shows us some of the most widely used photos in romance scams and how we can protect ourselves.
4 days ago
Americans are using their credit cards more often as the economy opens....
Matt Gephardt

Gephardt Busts Inflation: The key to saving money on your credit card bills

More Utahns are carrying debt, but the thing is – many of those folks have no idea how much interest they are paying on their debt.
8 days ago
...
Matt Gephardt and Cindy St. Clair

AmeriGas customers nationwide Get Gephardt after waiting weeks for propane

Calls to Get Gephardt have come from across the country, all having the same problem: missing propane deliveries. So, where’s the gas?
8 days ago

Sponsored Articles

vintage photo of lighting showroom featuring chandeliers, lamps, wall lights and mirrors...
Lighting Design

History of Lighting Design | Over 25 Years of Providing Utah With the Latest Trends and Styles

Read about the history of Lighting Design, a family-owned and operated business that paved the way for the lighting industry in Utah.
Fiber Optical cables connected to an optic ports and Network cables connected to ethernet ports...
Brian Huston, CE and Anthony Perkins, BICSI

Why Every Business Needs a Structured Cabling System

A structured cabling system benefits businesses by giving you faster processing speeds and making your network more efficient and reliable.
notebook with password notes highlighted...
PC Laptops

How to Create Strong Passwords You Can Actually Remember

Learn how you can create strong passwords that are actually easy to remember! In a short time you can create new ones in seconds.
house with for rent sign posted...
Chase Harrington, president and COO of Entrata

Top 5 Reasons You May Want to Consider Apartment Life Over Owning a Home

There are many benefits of renting that can be overshadowed by the allure of buying a home. Here are five reasons why renting might be right for you.
Festive kitchen in Christmas decorations. Christmas dining room....
Lighting Design

6 Holiday Decor Trends to Try in 2022

We've rounded out the top 6 holiday decor trends for 2022 so you can be ahead of the game before you start shopping. 
Happy diverse college or university students are having fun on their graduation day...
BYU MBA at the Marriott School of Business

How to Choose What MBA Program is Right for You: Take this Quiz Before You Apply!

Wondering what MBA program is right for you? Take this quiz before you apply to see if it will help you meet your goals.
Gephardt: Scam Texts Are On The Rise – Here’s What You Can Do