Instant Messaging Scam Is on the Rise
A new instant messaging scam is on the rise, attempting to steal identities and often a considerable sum of money from unwary victims. This all comes from simply responding to a harmless text message.
In this scam, a stranger will strike up a harmless-seeming chat, generally by pretending they are updating their list of contacts and reaching out to find who they are. This may start with something as simple as “Hi, who are you?”
The scammer will generally follow by explaining that they found you in their contact book and eventually admit that they don’t know you. However, this does not stop them, and they will follow by attempting to befriend you and send photos of themselves, which are fake, of course, simply harvested from elsewhere online. The scammers will try to elicit any responses they can get, including, if possible, any photos.
After a time, the scammers will ask to be added as a friend on social media platforms where they can begin harvesting personal information about you including friends, family, workplace, and basic personal data, which they can use to steal your identity. They will also now collect photos of you, and from here, the scam will often turn more hostile.
Using any photos they have received or ones they have photoshopped from your social media, the scammers will blackmail you threatening to send them to your friends if they do not receive a considerable sum of money. They may even craft a fake social media page containing your name and photos in order to damage your reputation unless you give in to their demands.
As a result of a simple text conversation, these scammers may have stolen your information and money as well as have caused lasting damage to your reputation. Luckily, avoiding this can be as easy as deleting and reporting any messages you receive from senders you don’t recognize.
In some cases, a scammer may pretend to be someone you do know. In cases where you aren’t certain of the identity of the sender of a message, remember to try to contact them elsewhere or attempt to call them in order to verify their identity.
If you do suffer from identity theft from this or another scam, it is always important to act quickly and contact law enforcement and your bank to let them know. It is also wise to issue a credit freeze and consider performing a self-background check to ensure your identity was not misused for criminal purposes.
You can stay one step ahead of hackers and identity thieves by running a quick self background check. Click here to get started.