DENVER (KDVR) — First the robocalls, now annoying text messages from solicitors are generating complaints from consumers who say they are tired of the constant notifications.
Many are also being put at risk as scammers attempt to trick them into handing over personal financial information.
The text messages offer everything from health insurance deals to offers to buy your home. Fraudulent notifications warn that the recipient’s car warranty is expiring or even go so far as to falsely represent a bank, warning of an overdraft or other activity, and all you have to do is sign into your account on a fake website link.
In 2021, Colorado Attorney General Phil Weiser’s office received 451 reports of fraudulent and unwanted calls. Weiser is continuing his assault on scams with an information sharing agreement with the Federal Communications Commission to fast-track the effort to contain fraud, which he says is running rampant.
“They’re going after everybody, and when they say, ‘Oh, you’re a customer of U.S. Bank,’ how they know that — they didn’t know that, they’re guessing. They continue to try to get people to give up their information by scaring people,” he said.
The cost is high, Americans have now lost more than $500 million dollars to scams.
How to stay safe from phone and text scams
The Problem Solvers asked tech security expert Mitch Tanenbaum of CyberCecurity about how so much personal information ends up in the hands of marketers and scammers.
He said phones do not have the same level of security and ability to block spam messages as computers do and warned against providing too much information when shopping in a store or online.
“If you bought a phone or a refrigerator or something and you filled out a registration card and they asked for your name and address and phone number, the reason why they do that is they sell it,” Tanenbaum said.
Tanenbaum added that it’s important to wait and take a moment to think before responding to any random text.
“People are much more likely to go off and respond to something without thinking. That’s what the bad guys are hoping,” Tanenbaum said.
Weiser advised that anyone receiving an unknown call should let it go to voicemail and monitor it later. He said suspicious texts from solicitors should be ignored and later blocked.
The best thing you can do to protect your information is to keep it to yourself. Opt out of providing your phone number online and run updates on your phone, as many include security upgrades.
Weiser said scams should be reported so they can be tracked and investigated.