The Oregon FBI has some information from its partners at the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) about robo text and email scams.
These are not messages people get from a company or agency when they signed up to receive those — things like newsletters or coupons. Subscribe and unsubscribe to those as you wish. This is about unsolicited messages from unknown people or groups who are either trying to download malware onto someone’s device or trying to get them to give up personal info.
People think they’re doing the right thing to stop the harassment by clicking “unsubscribe.” Don’t do it, FTC officials say. By clicking “unsubscribe” links or texting “stop” in reply, the spammers literally take that to mean “subscribe” and “please, go on.”
As these spammers blast out millions of texts or emails every day, they aren’t actually targeting certain people specifically —in fact, they might not know if an email or phone number is even valid. They are looking for signs of an active account. By hitting “unsubscribe” or replying in any way, people validate their contact information and risk inviting even more spam and scams.
There are various ways to mark messages as spam, depending on one’s type of device and service provider. People can also forward messages to the FTC directly. (More info on how to do that can be found at https://tinyurl.com/5aycxwzx)
At the very least, if you get a suspicious email, mark it as spam and delete it without opening it. If you get a suspicious text, delete without replying and block that number on your phone.
According to the FTC, here’s how to avoid those spam texts and emails in the first place:
• Avoid displaying your email address in public. Spammers scrape blog posts, chat rooms, social networking sites and forums — so the less of you that’s out there, the better.
• Use two email addresses — one for personal messages and one for everything else. Ideally, this second public-facing email address should be one you are willing to delete one day, if needed.
• Use a truly original address that’s unlikely to be created by spammers. Spammers send out millions of messages to probable name combinations, hoping to find a valid address. That means common first name/last name email addresses are more likely to attract spam.
If you believe you are a victim of an online scam, you should report the incident to the FBI’s Internet Crime Complaint Center at www.ic3.gov or call your FBI local office.