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How to Stop Area Code Text Scams

August 17, 2022

Text scammers are constantly updating their methods to better trick more targets into giving them their personal information. One new tactic utilizes phone numbers with various area codes to try and encourage your trust. 

Increased reports of scammers sending spam texts from area codes “949,” “239,” or “720,” among others, are helping raise awareness. If you suspect you’ve received such a scam text, read on to find out how to put an end to them.

Spam texts and their methods

Spam texts are an easy way for fraudsters to try to get you to share private information. The data you provide them can subsequently be used by the scammers to dupe you out of money, or gain access to your online profiles or accounts. 

There has been a staggering rise in the number of scam text occurrences across the country. 

While you might be familiar with the many forms a scam text might take, we encourage you to be wary of any text message you receive that contains any of the following elements:

  • “Package Delivery” – a parcel from Amazon or UPS needs to be delivered to your home address, and you need to click on the link to schedule a time. 
  • “Urgent Update” – a text claims to be from UPS or FedEx, and needs you to click a link to verify your personal information. 
  • “Financial Issue” – a message that claims there’s an issue with your bank account or debit or credit card and you need to click a link to gain access to your funds.

Keep in mind, these are only a few examples of tactics used in scam texts. For more, read our comprehensive guide to learn more about spotting and stopping spam texts

How to spot an area code text scam

Until recently, text scammers didn’t put as much effort into concealing their identity, sending messages from suspicious out-of-area phone numbers, for example. However, now fraudsters have developed ways to alter their numbers and area codes for a particular target area.

What that means for you is, don’t trust a text message as genuine just because the number it was sent from carries a recognizable or nearby area code.  If you receive a text message from any of the following area codes, it might be a sign that you’re dealing with a scammer. 

  • 949
  • 239
  • 720
  • 503
  • 332
  • 603
  • 940
  • 520 

While these are the most common area codes used in these text scams, they’re not the only ones. With this in mind, be on the lookout for these other signs of scam texts as well:

  • Unrecognized numbers – If you receive an unsolicited text from a phone number you don’t personally recognize, there’s a chance it could be a scam. 
  • Spelling errors – Official missives from companies or organizations will rarely send texts in the first place, let alone ones that contain errors or typos.
  • Senses of urgency – If the text language conveys a time limit, or encourages you to “hurry,” a scammer is probably trying to get you to act without thinking.
  • Suspicious links – Many scam links look legitimate, remember, but if you’re uncertain about any link in a text message you receive, simply don’t click it. 

What cell carriers are doing about spam texts

All the major U.S. carriers are aware spam texts are on the rise. They’re doing their best to help customers by offering free guides on recognizing spam texts. 

Verizon, T-Mobile and AT&T, specifically, take spam texts very seriously, even distributing information to account holders about potential scams. If you’re a customer, this information is usually located on the privacy settings page of the carrier website. 

Even more good news is that almost all cell carriers offer both free and premium versions of scam text and scam call monitoring. 

  • T-Mobile’s Scam Shield is a free service for all customers.
  • AT&T’s Call Protect has free or paid plans that detect scam texts and calls.
  • Sprint’s Call Screener is a service now available free of charge to all customers.
  • Verizon’s Call Filter has free and premium options available to all customers. 

What you can do to stop spam texts

First and foremost, never reply to suspicious text messages or click any suspicious links that might be included within a text message. 

How to block spam texts

For your protection, you should consider activating your cell phone’s built-in spam filters. Both iPhone and Android users can do this easily within the “Settings” menu. 

  • For iPhone users, go to Settings > Messages > Filter Unknown Senders.
  • On an Android, go to Settings > Spam Protection > Enable Spam Protection. 

There are also reputable third-party security apps available to download, many of which may provide more extensive spam filtering. 

How to report spam texts

If you’ve received a text message claiming to be from a reputable source, for instance, contact that source’s customer service team to find out if they distribute such messages. The reality is, most companies and organizations will never ask you to verify personal details via text.

No matter the incident of text scamming you’ve experienced, however, it’s vital that you report any and all suspicious spam texts or calls as soon as possible. 

There are many ways to do this, first by forwarding the content of the message to 7726, directly to your carrier’s privacy team. They will log and further investigate the incident. 

You can also report to your carrier directly within the text messages themselves. 

  • In your iPhone, you’ll notice a link within a text message that reads “Report Junk.” 
  • On an Android phone, you can simply press and hold a selected message to report it. 

Within your phone settings, you should also be provided with an option to both “Report” and “Block” the sender of a potential scam text at the same time. 

Why you’re getting spam texts to begin with

If you receive a lot of text spam, the most likely reason is because your personal phone number has probably been shared somewhere online, or has been listed and sold on a data-broker site.

Data brokers are an issue worldwide, but in the U.S. alone, hundreds of them operate legally, harvesting publicly available data to sell on to marketers. Occasionally, though, that data can fall into the wrong hands and put you at a high risk for fraud.

The first thing to do is remove your phone number, and any other sensitive information, from any social media accounts or other websites. Also, consider taking action to remove your data from data-broker sites, or hire removal specialists like DeleteMe to do it for you.

Addressing the problem at its root cause

We believe that the only effective method to stop spam texts once and for all is to tackle the problem at its root: the removal of your personal information from data-broker sites.

Though this is a process you can undertake on your own, it’s not easy to opt out of each and every data broker, individually. These processes can tend to take weeks or even months to take effect, and there’s no guarantee the request will even be honored.

Using a removal service like DeleteMe, however, is a surefire way to complete data-broker opt-out requests immediately. What’s more, once your information is removed, we continuously monitor the databases to make sure it never gets relisted again. 
Find out more about how our services can help, starting at as little as $10.75 a month.

Will Simonds runs Senior Marketing Operations at DeleteMe, and is a steadfast privacy advocate who has a resolute dedication to online privacy solutions and helping people regain their privacy. …

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