As you might be aware, Bitly is a convenient platform that shortens formal URLs, enabling users to customize links. Unfortunately, fraudsters are now using it to carry out scams.
While Bitly is a useful tool for sharing online content with a particular audience, community, or customer base, it’s now unfortunately being employed to conceal links that are malicious. That means you can never be sure if a link you’ve received in a text is legitimate or not.
However, if you’ve received a suspicious text with a Bitly link, we’re going to tell you what to do.
How do I spot the Bitly text scam?
There are many different kinds of spam texts, and it’s important to point out that brands, companies, and organizations do use spam text messaging for legitimate purposes, usually promotions and marketing.
However, scammers also use spam text messages to attempt to acquire personal information from a recipient. While they’re a lot of methods they employ, persuading you to click a malicious link is often one of them—a method further weaponized by the misuse of Bitly.
In our online guides for protecting yourself from scams, we often highlight “unusual hyperlinks” as a telltale sign of a text scam. As you can guess, scammers can use Bitly to conceal a malicious link as a familiar brand or company, or as an organization’s web link or site.
Some examples of scam texts that might feature a Bitly link might include:
- Package Notification – the spam text claims to be a delivery service and asks you to click a Bitly link to schedule a delivery to your home address.
- Contest Winner – a spam text asks recipients to follow a Bitly link in order to claim their prize for a contest or competition.
- Financial Notification – the spam text claims your bank account has been frozen and you need to follow a Bitly link to validate.
By far the easiest way to find the source of a Bitly link, though, is a simple method to take you to the official Bitly site. This will not only reveal the source of the link itself, but also how many times the link has been clicked in the past.
- Just copy and paste the link into your browser and add “+” at the end (for example, “bit.ly/3PLY8Zw” becomes “bit.ly/3PLY8Zw+”).
- Note: be careful never to click the hyperlink itself.
- Hit “Enter” to see the real link behind the Bitly URL.
It’s important that you should also be on the lookout for other signs that the text might be a scam. Some of the most obvious are as follows:
- Time Limits – a text that demands that you click a Bitly link or an “offer” will expire.
- Spelling Errors – official text messages typically do not contain text mistakes or typos.
- Unknown Numbers – scam texts tend to conceal numbers, so although this is a tricky clue it’s still something to look out for.
- Payment Requests – most legitimate companies would never ask you to pay a fee through a Bitly link shared in a text message.
- Personal Information Requests – any text message that asks you to share personal information via SMS should be viewed as a scam.
What is Bitly doing about the spam texts?
The team at Bitly is aware that the platform can be and is being used for malicious purposes, which is why they’re doing everything in their power to monitor and report scammers.
If you suspect that you’ve been sent a malicious link by text, you can share it with Bitly directly by filling out this online form and they will investigate it.
How do I stop spam texts that use Bitly links?
The most important thing to remember is, never click any suspicious link in a text message.
Unfortunately, there’s no easy way to tell a fake link from a real one. As we mentioned above, you can find out if the Bitly link is legitimate by copy and pasting the link into your browser and adding a “+” at the end.
If you want to stop receiving spam texts that are potentially scams altogether, then you need to take steps to block all spam entirely.
You can do this by turning on your cell phone’s built-in safety features. Both iPhone and Android offer services to help limit spam. You can customize these options in your settings.
Also, consider using a third-party app that provides additional spam protection. You can find plenty of solutions online or in your phone’s app store.
Can I report spam texts directly to Bitly?
As mentioned, you can share a spam text link with Bitly through their online reporting form. There are also a few other actions you can take.
- If a text contains a suspicious Bitly link, you should also report it to 7726. The text will be forwarded to your cell service provider’s fraud team.
- Similarly, many phones provide other built-in features that allow you to report or block a spam text within the operating platform.
- You can also report any potentially malicious spam texts to the FTC, who will investigate all reports of fraud.
Read our guide on how to stop spam texts for a full rundown of all your available options.
Why am I getting Bitly spam texts in the first place?
It’s true that scammers use Bitly and other methods to trick you into giving over your personal information. But if you’re getting sent numerous potentially fraudulent links, there’s a chance scammers have already acquired your information from data brokers.
Data brokers collect personal data online they sell to marketers, or even the highest bidder.
This information is readily available to the public, so the practice is legal. Unfortunately, it’s what leads to spam texts, and contributes to increased junk mail and robocalls.
How do I solve the problem of spam texts once and for all?
If you really want to secure your online data and stop getting spam texts, it starts by removing personal information from the data-broker sites themselves. Without easy access to an available cell number, scammers will have a hard time texting you malicious Bitly links.
The catch here is this: removing information from data brokers tends to be a tedious and time-consuming task, with a different opt-out process for each of hundreds of brokers.
Alternatively, you can hire a data broker-removal service like DeleteMe to do it all for you. When we opt you out of data-broker sites on your behalf, we guarantee you’re likely to see an immediate reduction in Bitly spam texts, as well as spam in general.
Take control of your personal data today, and sign up for our service for only $10.75 a month.
Don’t have the time?
DeleteMe is our premium privacy service that removes you from more than 30 data brokers like Whitepages, Spokeo, BeenVerified, plus many more.
Save 20% on DeleteMe when you use the code DIYPRIVACY.