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A text message from an unknown number that simply says: hi, how are you? seems harmless. Your first instinct might be to respond to see if it’s someone you know. Or maybe tell them they made a mistake. But it’s best to ignore these type of text messages. Scammers are using this tactic as a conversation starter, so don’t text back. If you do, here’s what happens next.

The person (a scammer) on the other end of the text will probably apologize…and find a way to keep the conversation going to befriend you. Then, once they have your trust, they’ll try to offer you advice on investing in cryptocurrency or claim they can teach you the secrets to making big money in the crypto markets. For a fee, of course. But it’s all a scam and they’ll just steal your money. 

Even if you just reply to the text but don’t engage in conversation, you’ve still confirmed they reached a working telephone number. Which could lead to more calls and texts from scammers. 

What’s the best way to avoid scams if you’re getting messages from numbers you don’t recognize?

  • Don’t reply to text messages from unknown numbers. It could lead to a scam. Delete and report them using your phone’s “report junk” option or forwarding unwanted texts to 7726 (SPAM) and unwanted emails to your email provider.
  • Never click links in an unexpected message. Some links might steal your information, or install malware that gives scammers access to your device.
  • Don’t trust anyone who says you can quickly and easily make money. Every investment has risks. Only scammers guarantee you’ll make lots of money in a short time with zero risk. 

Have you lost money to a scam like this? Tell the FTC at ReportFraud.ftc.gov.

 

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Hi, how are you? phone text bubble image coming from “unknown#”  Seems like an innocent message, but it leads to a scam.  Ignore and block unwanted texts

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The purpose of this blog and its comments section is to inform readers about Federal Trade Commission activity, and share information to help them avoid, report, and recover from fraud, scams, and bad business practices. Your thoughts, ideas, and concerns are welcome, and we encourage comments. But keep in mind, this is a moderated blog. We review all comments before they are posted, and we won’t post comments that don’t comply with our commenting policy. We expect commenters to treat each other and the blog writers with respect.

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Susan
June 03, 2024

You're absolutely right about this!

Shawn Rogers
June 03, 2024

Yes even I know not to text someone that I don't have any idea who they are it is true that you should ignore them

Sonia
June 03, 2024

Don't say "yes" to the first thing the caller asks: "Hello. Is this ("your name")?
They record the "yes" and connect it to the question(s) about purchasing or subscribing to something and then you get billed, etc.
Instead, ask, "Who is calling, please?"
If you don't recognize the person or company, just hang up before they go into their "script."

Julia
June 04, 2024

In reply to by Sonia

Yes, we're programmed from years of receiving phone calls to say that word. Just a small 'yes'. And then - as I've read on this and other sites - disaster. Hard at my age to try to change this habit, but I'm trying to always keep that in mind!

Judith Mitchell
June 03, 2024

Thank you for the information. Most seniors are caught in these scams because we were taught to be polite, and don't 🤔 think of being scammed.

AL HARTMAN
June 03, 2024

Thanks, very useful.

mary ann stock
June 03, 2024

Would not ignore or miss anything that you send! Good work.

Marty
June 04, 2024

Difficulty moving subject matter to reading further or other material. Thanks.

Tom Wagner
June 04, 2024

Is there anyway I can block the annoying text messages I get from political candidates, like Trump, and others?

Mike
June 05, 2024

In reply to by Tom Wagner

Political is a little different. Political and polling institutions have more latitude in what they can do legally. This would be a great FTC article. Generally you can request not to be contacted again and they are supposed to honor that.

Marcy Sphaler
June 04, 2024

I didn't lose anything, but the person on the other end tried to "hook up" with me. I've never heard of this person in my life. I am not going to go out with some random phone caller, just because he had dialed the wrong number! He then thought maybe if he texted pictures of himself that I'd be interested, as a last resort. Uh....no sir! "Poof! Blocked and deleted!" What a disgusting male chaovanist pig!!

Will
June 04, 2024

I don't understand why you can't block unverified phone numbers. Or at very least block google sourced numbers since that is where almost ALL the scam texts I get come from. There HAS to be a way to block anonymous texts and calls. It has gotten to the point for me that I do not answer my phone unless the number is in my contacts.

Garush
June 04, 2024

Isn't there some global way to block this phrase (and other phrases) in the subject box or message.???
Remember paying more for a private phone number. How would I do this with an email address.
Though privacy was strongly supported in the Constitution.!?

Yovana Amaro
June 04, 2024

Great advice! I had an email scam from wire transfer to South Africa in 2016. They used you won the lottery through Windows and "do not tell anybody about it" The bank I used was Wells Fargo.

Julia
June 04, 2024

Got several recently. One said "I'm at the airport. Where are you?" Another said "Are you okay?" A third - I don't remember what it said, but again - no relationship to me at all. Numbers I didn't have in my contacts list (which would have shown anyway, like all the other texts I get) and questions that had no relevance to me or my activities.
So ... delete, delete, delete. ... I'm VERY good at deleting! :D

Imogene Allen
June 04, 2024

You’re so right I wonder how the scammers get my phone number I know a diversity’s of people who live in different states sometimes they have to stop answering their phones because of all the scammers phone calls and texts messages the scammers really take advantage of the older people especially in New Mexico I have never had so much identity theft until I moved to NM for six years straight I always have to contact the FTC your information is very educational keep up the good work

Sachin Kumar
June 04, 2024

Madam/Sir, Sometimes unknown/scammers say that they have viewed this mobile number on YouTube videos. Some unruly viewers use abusive language to show the apathy towards that filthy singer. I lodged my complain several years ago on YouTube but it was not being processed. In recent years I reported such malpractices on FTC and then on Cybercrime portal of my country. After that last year I have noticed that the singer and his channels have rectified their contact details but even then unknown/scammers calls or WhatsApp me just to interact with that filthy singer. Yesterday one such unknown/scammer had interacted me for 10 minutes on WhatsApp and I reported it to the Govt agency along with WhatsApp. I was not aware that scammers are using text messages too to do scams. Thanks!

Nelson19
June 04, 2024

Thank you!
Very accurate and very helpful. Would be nice to narrow the scammers playing field to nothing if more people would follow your advice.
In the IT business and these are good messages!
KUDOS

Lowdeep
June 05, 2024

Yep, it works and got me to the tune of $8,000 Bucks. That's what I call learning the hard way.

Robert
June 05, 2024

I feel like scammers are getting craftier by using phone numbers in the same area code. We need more education and awareness around scams and how to respond. Thank you for this post.

Mike
June 12, 2024

I generally just block these. But if I am in the mood, I will be as unpleasant with them as possible in as many ways as I can. If I discourage even one of these people, I may be saving someone else. Unpleasant can be anywhere from stringing them along as long as a I can you describing to them what low lifes they are in as graphic terms as possible. I don't recommend this for everyone. But these criminals deserve all the abuse I can heap on them.

JOE
June 05, 2024

I know what you mean when you can't get out of the habit of saying "Hello? Yes, this is ....." That "YES" can cost you a lot of money.

I had to train myself to answer the phone with "What is it?" when I don't know who's calling. It was difficult at first, but a little practice and you can do it. Avoid saying 'yes' or yeah or yep. Anything that can be used as you consenting to something.

Calls to me (when I do answer) go something like this: What is it? Is this Joe? What is it? Are you Joe? What is it? And they hang up. Guess they wanted me to say "Yes".

Kenton Stevens
June 07, 2024

Job scams are everywhere. Please don't talk to people who claim to be from an employer who gives vague and unclear information about their company. If they ask for something in return, don't respond.

KLRoloff
June 10, 2024

Thanks for your thoughts.

Mx T
June 10, 2024

I've turned off my "auto download" in my SMS message app. So if there's an attachment with a text message or AS a text message, if I don't know the sender, I simply "mute" anyone from that number, then eventually I delete them. If attachments are not opened or downloaded within a time limit (ie 24 hours), they expire. I still receive SO many political texts and I rarely interact with them, not even with the ones I know are legit. The only thing I have ever gotten from donating to a political campaign, is dozen more requests for money for political stuff.

Robert
June 12, 2024

Today I received the infamous letter, regarding the unclaimed life insurance policy worth more than $10 million U.S. They reached out to me due to their deceased client and I sharing last names, go figure!
The law firm in Ontario Canada is Crawford, Nieves & Partners LLP. With an uncommon Hispanic last name, I got suspicious right away. I found no obit under his supposed name, of course I found the law firms website, which the partner writing the letter has her name, Crawford, Nieves & Partners LLP. Good luck to all of you and don't send anyone $, crypto or gift cards, unless you have dough to blow. Peace.

MARIA
June 14, 2024

In reply to by Robert

I ALSO RECEIVED THE SAME LETTER DATED MAY 30TH 2024.
ALSO SHARING MY LAST NAME, ABOUT THE SAME THE INSURANCE POLICY.
THIS PEOPLE WILL NOT STOP UNTIL THEY USE SOME ONE.
AND THE FUNNY PART IS THAT SOME PEOPLE WILL GO FOR IT.