Beware of Fake DMV Texts

Text Message Phishing

Officials urged New Yorkers to ignore text messages instructing recipients to update their information by clicking on a link.

In response, Governor Andrew Cuomo signed a bill which expanded the telemarketing definition to include text messages. So, phishing texts will be subject to more scrutiny in the future.

“Our consumer protections need to keep pace with technology and New Yorkers who have long been plagued by the nuisance of annoying calls from telemarketers now have to contend with unwanted texts attempting to sell them things they don’t want,” he said in a statement.

“This legislation closes this annoying loophole and will help ensure our laws are modernized to confront the needs of New Yorkers.”

During the spring of 2020, a number of phishers tried to use the coronavirus pandemic as an excuse to steal personal information.

Protecting Yourself from Common Text Message Phishing Scams

Fake texts and emails are one of the leading growth industries in the United States.

According to the FBI, these incidents have increased over 1,000 percent in the last five years. Phishing scams also account for about half the data breaches in the United States.

There are several ways to spot fake texts and emails. The sender’s number or email address is sometimes a dead giveaway.

Most texts from legitimate companies come from a six-digit short code, a local area code, or a toll-free area code, like 844 or 888.

If the text comes from an out-of-area, 11-digit number, it might be fake. Furthermore, company emails usually come from company domains, like Unofficial domain names are usually scams.

Additionally, most phishing texts or emails have spelling or grammar errors.

Scammers normally place these mistakes in the text on purpose. They believe, with some justification, that people who cannot spot obvious errors are more likely to fall for a scam.

Over the years, hackers have invented more sophisticated ways to trick people. However, most text phishing scams still involve one of the following:

  • Family Emergency: The “your son/grandson/whatever is in jail and needs bail money,” or some variation thereof, is the most common phishing scam, mostly because it is scary and effective. Try responding with a challenge question, such as the person’s name. Or, verify the information with a trusted family member.
  • Refund: These texts, which usually purport to be from a cell phone company or government agency, often look pretty real. And, there are lawsuits and other matters which could trigger refunds. But these companies don’t ask for your account information.
  • You’re a Winner: No one gets something for nothing.
  • Reactivation: Typically, the text claims your Google or other account has been hacked and you need to reactivate it. Once again, these texts are rather convincing and rather frightening.

In general, your Spidey sense should tingle if the company reaches out to you, wants any personal information, and/or wants any money upfront.

Ponzi Schemes and Pyramid Schemes

Roughly 37,000 investors gave billions of dollars to Ponzi schemer Bernie Madoff. He was not the first and won’t be the last.

In the early 1900s, Boston “financier” Charles Ponzi promised a 50 percent return on a postal coupon investment. It’s easy to label these investors as greedy or worse.

But these schemers, like Madoff, usually have compelling backstories and rave reviews from other investors.

Due diligence is usually the key to avoiding Ponzi schemes. Do a little research and reach out to independent brokers.

Pyramid schemes, which are also known as chain referral or franchise fraud schemes, are roughly the same. The key difference is that the victims themselves perpetuate the scam.

They must recruit new members, or take similar action, in order to recoup their investments. However, many direct sales programs are legitimate.

The aforementioned due diligence is usually the best way to distinguish between a good opportunity and a pyramid scheme.

At Napoli Shkolnik PLLC, our experienced New York personal injury attorneys are dedicated to making your life safer.