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(WHNT) – Robocalls are annoying enough, but robotexts? According to the Federal Communications Commission, scammers are adding another tool into their arsenal to annoy Americans.

The FCC tracks complaints as opposed to actual call volume, but the agency’s own stats show complaints about unwanted text messages have risen steadily in recent years. Around 5,700 complaints were filed in 2019, 14,000 in 2020, 15,300 in 2021, and 8,500 through June 30, 2022.

What to Look For

These scams can take many forms, according to the FCC:

  • Claims of unpaid bills
  • Claims of an issue with a package delivery
  • Claims of an issue with a bank account
  • Claims of an outstanding warrant or other issue with law enforcement

In all these cases, the FCC said these texts may use fear and anxiety, as well as confusing or incomplete information, to get the recipient to engage with the scammer.

Scam texts, also known as “smishing,” often include some or all of the following:

  • Comes from an unknown number and/or a number that’s 10 or more digits long
  • Contains misleading/incomplete information
  • Words are misspelled to avoid blocking/filtering tools
  • Contains mysterious links
  • Is a sales pitch

How to Stay Safe

  • Don’t respond to suspicious texts (even by texting STOP)
  • Don’t click on any links
  • Don’t provide any information, whether by replying or through a website in the suspicious message
  • File a complaint with the FCC (online or by calling 888-225-5322)
  • Forward unwanted texts to SPAM (7726)
  • Delete the suspicious texts
  • Keep your smart devices (and security apps, if applicable) up to date
  • Consider installing anti-malware software (if applicable)
  • Carefully review company policies regarding opting out of text alerts and selling/sharing of consumer information
  • Review text blocking tools offered on specific mobile phones (such as Apple’s built-in blocking on newer versions of iOS/iPadOS or the phone app on Android), and through third parties

The best rule of thumb – if that text message is suspicious, hang up and call the business, organization, or law enforcement agency the message claims to be. Valid phone numbers can be found on a bill, the organization/business/agency’s official website, or official social media pages.