WTOP’s tech director offers tips for dodging onslaught of ‘robotexts’

Did you receive texts last month from a mysterious 12-digit number offering you $5,000, or an onslaught of misspelled messages asking you to text ‘STOP’ back?

If so, Robokiller says you got some of the estimated 12 billion “robotexts” sent to phones across the country.

The U.S. Federal Communications Commission recently issued a consumer alert from its Robocall Response Team warning consumers that the texts are becoming a scammer’s best friend.

“Scam text message senders want you to engage with them,” the FCC said in the statement. “Like robocallers, a robotexter may use fear and anxiety to get you to interact.”

WTOP’s Senior Director of Technology George Molnar echoed the agency’s call to be cautious when engaging with texts, and offered tips for navigating the messages.

“Whenever you’re confronted with communication you didn’t ask for, be very skeptical,” Molnar said.

He said those texts could be from scammers looking for money, or confirming your number works so they can take advantage of consumers.

“A lot of them are bad actors looking to get your information — looking to get some sort of info about who you are, what you’re doing, where you’re going — and using it for whatever their purposes are,” he said.

Molnar also advised consumers to look out for unknown numbers, long phone numbers and mysterious links. If you see these signs, avoid responding.

“Don’t click on the links. Don’t provide any information unprompted,” unless you know who you’re writing to, he said. “That’s a great way to go on the internet in general.”

The FCC encourages anyone who receives this type of spam to file a complaint online, forward the texts to SPAM (7726) and delete any suspicious messages. Consumers should also update their smart device and security apps, or even consider getting anti-malware software.

Ivy Lyons

Ivy Lyons is a digital journalist for WTOP.com. Since 2018, they have worked on Capitol Hill, at NBC News in Washington, and with WJLA in Washington.

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