BBB Alert: Don't reply to that text message, it's a scam

Better Business Bureau

BUFFALO — The Better Business Bureau of Upstate New York's Scam Tracker received several reports over the weekend of this text scam. In fact, some BBB staff members received the text as well.

A new text message scam seems so innocent that it’s tempting to reply. But con artists are using phony “wrong number” texts to lure victims into a conversation and falling for a scam.

If you get a text from a stranger, it is possibly a chatbot, trying to trick you into registering for dating or adult websites. Your new “friend” will encourage you to sign up for a specific website to see more explicit photos, which may involve offering up your credit card number.

How the scam works

You receive a text from someone claiming they met you recently. If you reply to a text like this, even with a polite, “Sorry, wrong number,” the stranger responds anyway, seemingly ignoring your answer. Usually, you’ll receive a few compliments and some photos.

If you continue to engage with the stranger, which is really a chatbot, it tries to trick you into registering for dating or adult websites. Your new “friend” will encourage you to sign up for a specific website to see more explicit photos, which may involve offering up your credit card number. Considering the dubious nature of this scam, if you hand over your credit card information at any point, you could be putting yourself at risk for fraudulent charges and identity theft.

How to avoid chatbot scams 

  • Ignore texts from strangers. If you receive a text from someone you don’t know, simply don’t reply. It’s the safest route. If you engage with a scammer, even briefly, they will mark your number as active and you could receive even more shady texts in the future.
     
  • Block numbers that appear to come from scammers. Unsolicited texts that look like they come from a chatbot or that ask you to click on suspicious links are probably not safe. Block these numbers to prevent scammers from contacting you through them again.
     
  • Never give your personal information to strangers. Never share your credit card or banking information, your full name, home address, or social security number with someone you never met in person.

Visit BBB.org/ScamTracker to report this scam and read about other scams happening in your area.