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How to identify fake and fraudulent text messages

Don't fall for scams! Learn how to identify fake text messages and protect yourself from phishing attempts.

Published onMarch 2, 2023

In today’s world, it’s common for people to receive text messages that may be fake or fraudulent. Unfortunately, scammers and hackers have become adept at creating fake text messages designed to trick people into revealing their personal information or clicking on a link that will infect their devices with malware. Learning to identify fake and fraudulent text messages is essential to avoid falling victim to a scam.


Some tips for identifying fake text messages include checking the sender's number to see where they are from, looking for grammar and spelling errors, and if the text contains suspicious links. Do not click on those links; block the sender if you suspect it to be spam.


How to identify fake and fraudulent text messages

There are a few telltale signs of fake text messages, such as text messages that contain weird links, ask for personal information, or come from unusual numbers containing calling codes from other countries. Many scammers will pretend to be a bank or company, and it’s important to note that banks and other financial institutions hardly ever contact people via SMS. Even if they do, they never ask for personal information. Another red flag is if the text promises large amounts of money to deposit into your account.

fake text messages android
Adam Birney / Android Authority

Here are five tips for identifying fake text messages:

Check the Sender

One of the easiest ways to spot a fake text message is to check the sender’s number. If the number looks suspicious or unfamiliar, it’s probably best to avoid responding to the message or clicking on any links that it contains.

It’s worth noting that scammers can also spoof phone numbers, so don’t rely solely on the number to determine whether a text message is legitimate. If you’re unsure about a message, try searching the internet for the sender’s number to see if it’s associated with known scams.

Look for Grammar and Spelling Errors

Another telltale sign of a fake text message is poor grammar and spelling errors. Many scammers and hackers are not native English speakers, and their messages may contain obvious mistakes that a legitimate institution would never make. If a text message contains numerous errors, it’s probably best to delete it immediately.

Don’t Click on Suspicious Links

Many fake text messages contain links that are designed to take you to a phishing website or infect your device with malware. If a message contains a link you’re unsure about, don’t click on it.

Instead, try searching the internet for the website that the link is supposed to lead to. If it’s a legitimate website, you should be able to find it easily. If it’s a fake website, you may find reports from other people who have been targeted by the same scam.

Be Wary of Urgent Requests

Scammers often use urgent or threatening language to try to convince people to act quickly without thinking. If a message contains urgent requests or warnings, it’s probably best to ignore it.

Trusted sources would never use such language to communicate with you, and the message is likely a fake or fraudulent attempt to get your personal information or infect your device.

Check for Personalization

Many legitimate text messages contain personalization, such as your name or account information. If a message doesn’t contain any personalization, it’s more likely to be fake or fraudulent. Some scams will use a random name, pretending to have sent the text to the wrong person, as an ice-breaker to get your information.

However, scammers are becoming more sophisticated and may be able to include personal information in their messages, so just getting your name right is not enough to verify credibility.

How to report SMS phishing

If you get a text message you weren’t expecting and it asks you to give some personal or financial information, don’t click on any links. Legitimate companies won’t ask for information about your account by text. If you think the message might be real, contact the company using a phone number or website you know is accurate, not the information in the text message.

If you receive a fake or fraudulent text message, it’s essential to report it to the appropriate authorities. Here are some steps that you can take to report SMS phishing:

Contact your Mobile Service Provider

Contact your mobile service provider immediately if you receive a suspicious text message. They may be able to block the sender’s number or provide you with additional information about the message. You can filter and block spam or messages from unknown senders on Android or iPhone. We also have specific instructions for Samsung phones.

Report the Message to the FTC

The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) is responsible for protecting consumers against scams and fraud. If you receive a suspicious text message, you should report it to the FTC by forwarding it to 7726 (SPAM). This helps your wireless provider spot and block similar messages in the future.

File a Complaint with the IC3

The Internet Crime Complaint Center (IC3) is a partnership between the FBI and the National White Collar Crime Center. If you receive a suspicious text message, you should file a complaint with the IC3 by visiting their website at The IC3 will review your complaint and take action against the sender if appropriate.

Reporting SMS phishing is important in protecting yourself and others from scams and fraud. By reporting suspicious messages, you can help prevent scammers from successfully stealing personal information and money from unsuspecting victims.


If you receive a suspicious text message, do not click on any links or provide personal information. Instead, report it to your mobile service provider, the FTC, or the IC3.

Yes, scammers can spoof phone numbers to make it appear as if the message is coming from a trusted source. Always double-check the sender’s number and other details before responding to a message.

Some common signs of a fake text message include weird links, poor grammar and spelling errors, and urgent requests for personal information or asking for or promising you money.

To protect yourself from SMS phishing, be cautious when responding to text messages from unknown senders, avoid clicking on suspicious links, and block the sender.

Yes, banks and other financial institutions can send text messages to their customers. However, they will never ask for personal information via text message. If you are unsure about a message’s authenticity, contact the company directly to verify the information.

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