SCAM ALERT! There is a Target texting scam going around. The text looks similar to the one in the picture to the left, and generally says you’ve won a $1,000 gift card if you simply click on the link and collect the money. When you click on the link, it takes you to a Target-looking site that a criminal has set up to collect your private information. The information is then used to steal your identity. In other cases, clicking on the link installs a small piece of malware that takes control of your phone and forwards your private information to the criminals.
Where do the criminals get my mobile phone number to text me in the first place?
- They purchase it off of black-market sites on the internet
- You give your mobile number away to enter contests, vote on reality shows, etc.
- You post it on your Facebook profile for everyone to see
- Data hijackers hack into databases containing millions of mobile numbers
- Most likely, the thieves simply use a computer to automatically generate a text to every potential mobile phone number possible (a computer can make about a million guesses a second).
- If you receive a text from any number you don’t know, don’t open it, forward it or respond to it
- Instead, immediately delete the text (or email)
- If you accidentally click on the link, never fill out a form giving more of your information
- Place yourself on the national DO NOT CALL list.
- Stop sharing your mobile phone number except in crucial situations and with trusted contacts
- Remember when you text to vote or to receive more information, enter sweepstakes or take surveys via text, they are harvesting your phone number.
- Resist the urge to post your mobile number on your Facebook wall or profile
John Sileo is an award-winning author and international speaker on the dark art of deception (identity theft, data privacy, social media manipulation) and its polar opposite, the powerful use of trust. He is CEO of The Sileo Group, which helps organizations protect their mission-critical privacy. His clients include the Department of Defense, Pfizer, the FDIC, and Homeland Security. Sample his Keynote Presentation or watch him on Anderson Cooper, 60 Minutes or Fox Business.