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Scammers using text message phishing scheme to get personal information, money

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Posted at 6:46 AM, Apr 23, 2021

TAMPA, Fla. — Officials want the community to be on high alert for scammers who are targeting people through text messages.

“It’s a phishing scheme. They’re trying to get either your personal information or money out of you directly,” said Eric Olsen, Manage of Consumer Protection Services in Hillsborough County.

If you've noticed more texts lately from numbers you don’t recognize, experts say that’s likely due to it being tax season, more COVID-19 scammers, and recent stimulus payments.

“People are working from home more now and the fraudsters know that and so they’re likely targeting more people trying to get money out of them,” said Olsen.

The text messages will usually try to look legitimate, claiming it’s from somewhere like Amazon about a recent order, the postal service telling you to check your tracking information, or even that you won a contest.

You may also see texts claiming your bank account or Netflix account was compromised, prompting you to click on a link to fix it.

“If you get a link, a message from someone you don’t know, you click on that link, the link can install malicious code onto your device or it takes you to a legitimate-looking, though fake, webpage where they’ll try to do the same thing, either get you to install a program or get you to provide information or pay money to them,” said Olsen.

Experts say scammers are working to make the texts look as real as possible, so you have to be very careful.

If you don’t know where the message is coming from, officials say it’s likely a scam.

The best thing to do is block the number and delete the message without responding or clicking on anything.