Arizona Attorney General Mark Brnovich Warns About the Rise of Text Scams

Arizona Attorney General Mark Brnovich is warning consumers that the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) logged a record high of 378,119 fraud complaints about text scams in 2021, up from 332,275 in 2020. Consumers lost at least $131 million due to text scams in 2021, with a median loss of $900 per person. The Arizona Attorney General’s Office has also seen an increase in complaints related to text scams.

“Our office has made great strides in battling telephone scams and bogus calls, but the fraudsters are relentless,” said Attorney General Brnovich. “Text messaging schemes are now on the rise, and people are losing their money.”

What is a Text Scam?

Text scams target consumers by sending them a deceptive or cryptic text message, hoping people will respond or click a link.

Examples of Text Scams:

  • Financial Services Scam: These scammers pretend to be a bank or other financial institution. They send a text message informing you of suspicious activity on your bank account and urging you to verify your account username, password, or PIN.
  • Delivery Scam: Fraudsters pose as a delivery service and send a text message asking you to confirm your credit card number to pay for the delivery of a package.
  • Government Imposter Scam: Someone impersonating a government agency such as the IRS or the Social Security Administration may send you a text message claiming that the IRS needs your social security number in order for you to receive your tax return or even to prevent legal action against you.
  • Gift/Prize Scam: These scammers pretend to be well-known companies. The text may include a link to a website to fill out a survey and promise you cash or a gift card upon completion.
  • Impersonation Scam:  Fraudsters falsely impersonate acquaintances or pretend to have the wrong number. You may receive a text from an unknown phone number with a simple phrase like, “How are you?”, “Hi,” or “I couldn’t reach you. Call me back when you can.”

Tips for Arizonans to Guard Against Text Scams:

  • Ignore messages from unknown numbers claiming to be financial institutions, shippers, government agencies, and private companies. These entities do not request personal information via text message. It is highly unlikely they would text you if you have not first reached out to them. If you think the request could be legitimate, independently call or email using contact information from the entity’s website, not from the text message.
  • Do not click any links in an unsolicited text message.  Clicking the link can give the scammer access to personal information on your phone.
  • Do not respond to a text message from an unknown number.  Do not reply even if the text message says “text STOP” to avoid more messages.
  • Block the number that sent you the scam text message. Click here for a guide on how to block scam texts on an iPhone or Android phone.
  • Look for red flags in the text message, like misspellings or directions pressuring you to act quickly. Scammers want you to think the matter is urgent so that you don’t take time to evaluate the situation fully.
  • As a general rule, treat your personal information like cash. Would you give cash to someone who randomly contacts you via text message?  Treat any phone number that asks for any personally identifiable information through text message as if they are asking you for cash.
  • Take your time, and follow your instincts. Even if the message seems to be from an entity or number that you recognize (like your bank), has this entity ever texted you before? Even if they have texted you before, have they ever texted about this particular piece of information or made this particular request?  Being cautious will save you a lot of time, aggravation, and money in the long run.

If you believe you have experienced or witnessed consumer fraud, you can file a consumer complaint by visiting the Attorney General’s website. If you need a complaint form sent to you, you can contact the Attorney General’s Office in Phoenix at (602) 542-5763, in Tucson at (520) 628-6648, or outside the Phoenix and Tucson metro areas at (800) 352-8431.