NewsWRTV Investigates

Actions

Phishing text messages are on the rise and they're bombarding a Carmel grandmother

Scammers want your personal and financial information
Sheila Black of Carmel is tired of being bombarded with phishing text messages
A phishing text message sent to Sheila Black of Carmel. She gets them several times a day.
Sheila Black of Carmel contacted WRTV Investigates for help in stopping phishing text messages
Posted at 6:00 AM, Jul 19, 2021
and last updated 2021-07-19 22:57:43-04

CARMEL — A Carmel woman is fed up with unwanted text messages phishing for her personal information.

Sheila Black’s cell phone pings day and night with phishing texts — messages scammers send you to try to steal your financial or personal data.

In Black’s case, the messages are all group texts with phone numbers she does not recognize.

“I’m just being bombarded,” said Black. “It's ludicrous. I'm exhausted from it. I really am."

The Carmel grandmother contacted WRTV Investigates for help in getting the often-explicit messages to stop.

“I’m a Christian,” said Black. “Most of the texts are very vulgar.”

A phishing text message sent to Sheila Black of Carmel. She gets them several times a day.
A phishing text message sent to Sheila Black of Carmel. She gets them several times a day.
Phishing3.jpg
One of the phishing text messages.

Black contacted her wireless provider, AT&T, as well as Apple who told her to block the senders and recipients on the text messages.

But Black said that did nothing to stop the messages.

“It's really concerning that it's escalating,” said Black. “I think that's my primary concern. Any given day, I may be inundated with messages and the process to block them is very tedious and very frustrating."

WRTV Investigates did some checking and found phishing text messages are a growing problem because scammers know more and more consumers are connecting with banks, businesses, and health care providers via text message.

“They're batching numbers and they're sending them out in in groups,” said Scott Barnhart, director of consumer protection at the Indiana Attorney General’s office. “It's a traditional phishing scam where they're trying to get that one or two people to click on the link and follow through."

Scammers use the links as bait so they can steal your identity or your money.

"Scammers are getting very creative,” said Barnhart. “The dark web has very specific instructions on if you want to do this scam, follow step one two and three."

WRTV Investigates checked with the Federal Trade Commission who told us in the first quarter of 2021, they’ve received more than 90,110 reports from consumers who said the scammer contacted them via text message.

"Avoiding interaction with these folks is your best bet, not clicking on the link, not trying to reason with them, not trying to talk to them,” said Barnhart. “The more interaction you have with them, puts you in a position of vulnerability."

Clicking on a link or talking to scammers will only tell them you’re willing to bite, and that can result in even more unwanted messages.

If you get one of these messages, you can screenshot and report it to the Federal Trade Commission and the Indiana Attorney General’s office.

"File a complaint with our office,” said Barnhart. “We monitor and track these kinds of things and we have the ability to send out subpoenas and do investigations to see if we can trace it."

How To Stop Phishing Texts

  • Do not click the links or engage with the scammers
  • When in doubt, delete the message
  • Contact your wireless provider and ask them for help in stopping unwanted messages and calls
  • Purchase an app like Robokiller or Norombo
  • Protect your mobile phone by setting software to update automatically
  • Protect your accounts by using multi-factor authentication. Multi-factor authentication makes it harder for scammers to log in to your accounts if they do get your username and password

CTIA, an organization representing the wireless industry suggests forwarding phishing texts to your provider at 7726 or “SPAM.”

"Overall, text messaging has a very low rate of spam-less than 3%, making it one of the most trusted and widely used forms of communication,” said CTIA in a statement on its website.

Sheila Black has never clicked on any links or given up her personal information, but she wants the messages to stop.

Sheila Black of Carmel contacted WRTV Investigates for help in stopping phishing text messages
Sheila Black of Carmel contacted WRTV Investigates for help in stopping phishing text messages

WRTV Investigates helped Black filter out unwanted text messages on her iPhone.

Filtering messages from unknown senders turns off iMessage notifications from senders who aren’t in your contacts and sorts the messages into the Unknown Senders tab in the Messages list.

1. Go to Settings > Messages.

2. Turn on Filter Unknown Senders.

Sheila Black was grateful for the help.

"I've tried to go to every resource to try to get help,” said Black. “You guys are there for me. "

AT&T provided the following statement to WRTV when asked about Black’s problem.

“We monitor and block abusive text messages. Customers should forward suspicious texts to SPAM (7726),” read the statement from AT&T.

AT&T also has a consumer alert about phishing texts, also known as robotexts telling its users to always go directly to a company’s website, not the link included in the text message.

“Scammers can build fake websites using forged company logos, signatures and styles,” read the AT&T website.

Contact WRTV Investigates