ON YOUR SIDE: Avoid text message scams

Updated: May. 2, 2013 at 6:20 PM EDT
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RICHMOND, VA (WWBT) - Many of us text more than talk on our cell phone - and scammers are texting too. A weird text is showing up on some mobile phones in our area.

I got two phishing-type messages on my personal cell and decided to do a scam check with the Better Business Bureau.

Regardless of how tempted you are to text back or call the number in the message, the BBB says don't take the risk.

The weird texts come from random numbers One came from NewgenerationsFCU and another showed up on my phone from VACAP-FCU... each with a number to call.

One number rings busy, the other has a detailed message instructing the caller.

"Thanks for calling the health enrollment group customer service department. Hold for the next available agent."

We held on until someone picked up. He explained the text may have been triggered by an online search and that people are always misdialing and getting the wrong number.

We didn't give up any information, of course. But, to be safe, just delete the text and resist finding out who's on the other end.

"These people do this for a living," said Tom Gallager with the BBB. "They are very very good at it. Once they've got some information about you, sooner or later they're going to use it."

Gallagher says just responding to an unwanted text, asking them not to text you, is also a way to validate your contact information.

"All of these things are poison. It's a request for your debit card number. For your credit card number or personal information. All this is an attempt to get information from you," said Gallager.

To be safe: don't respond to unwanted texts. Be careful about displaying your mobile number in emails or listing it on websites. And remember, many phone companies will allow you to forward unwanted spam messages by texting it to 7726 or spam.

This stops future unwanted messages from a specific sender.

You can also file a complaint with the Federal Communications Commission. The number: 1-888-CALL-FCC. The government agency can determine whether any rules were violated.

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