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Americans Have Collectively Lost $330 Million to These Text Message Scams, Here’s How

Exploring the financial toll on Americans after falling victim to the text message scam.
Cover Image Source: Pexels | Photo by Karolina Grabowska
Cover Image Source: Pexels | Photo by Karolina Grabowska

In recent times, many Americans have fallen victim to the text message scam. Scammers are continually expanding their strategies, resulting in a loss of millions of dollars. Across online platforms such as social media, financial applications, and messaging services, they adeptly leverage AI technology alongside other deceptive methods to scam individuals. Unfortunately, many unsuspecting users struggle to discern the deceit, making them vulnerable targets of online fraud.

Image Source: Pexels|Photo by Andrea Piacquadio
Image Source: Pexels | Photo by Andrea Piacquadio

Widely known as "smashing," SMS phishing or text message scams are rampant across the United States, targeting unsuspecting victims. Utilizing technology and cunning tactics, scammers entice users into divulging their financial and personal information. According to data from the Federal Trade Commission, Americans have collectively lost $330 million to these text message scams.

Georgia stands out as particularly vulnerable, with 1,611 reports per 100,000 people, followed by high-risk states such as Delaware, Nevada, and Florida. Conversely, North Dakota reported the lowest incidence of scams, with only 568 cases reported.

Image Source: Pexels|Photo by Tara Winstead
Image Source: Pexels | Photo by Tara Winstead

Scammers possess keen insights into customer behavior, understanding that text messages often evoke a sense of urgency that prompts recipients to open them. These messages often include notifications of unauthorized large transactions or offers of assistance to recover stolen funds. In such situations, individuals often succumb to panic, and consequently fall prey to these schemes, resulting in the loss of their hard-earned money and savings.

"Texting is cheap and easy, and scammers are counting on the ding of an incoming text being hard to ignore," Emma Fletcher, a senior data researcher for the FTC said. "Scammers use the speed of text communication to their advantage: they hope you won't slow down and think over what's in the message."

While the term "text message scam" refers to a broad range of fraudulent activities, reports indicate several distinct categories to which Americans have fallen victim. These include miscellaneous investments and investment advice, romance scams, government impostors, fake check schemes, employment scams, online shopping pitfalls, medical treatment scams, and deceptive loan offers, among others. Each of these schemes exploits different vulnerabilities and emotions, making them all the more insidious and damaging.

Image Source: Boonchai/Getty Images
Image Source: Photo by Boonchai | Getty Images

"Scammers use the speed of text communication to their advantage: they hope you won't slow down and think over what's in the message. Some messages promise a good thing -- a gift, a package, or even a job. Others try to make you panic, thinking someone's in your accounts. These are all lies and ways to take your money and personal information," the FTC warns.

It's important to immediately report any suspicious texts or questionable links to reputable authorities such as the FTC to thwart potential scams. Additionally, exercise caution when encountering messages, particularly those soliciting money from supposed friends; verify such requests through real-time communication channels like phone calls. Staying vigilant and informed about prevalent scams in your area is essential for better protection against deceitful tactics.