a blog from CenturyLink

How to avoid wrong number text scams

by | Jun 21, 2022


In an era where phones and computers run our lives, it’s all too easy to fall victim to a scam. Even the most technologically savvy people are fooled by ever-evolving scams. In fact, every year, one in ten adults in the US will fall victim to a scam or fraud. The Better Business Bureau found that, when approached by a scammer, around half of potential victims engaged with the scammer, and 23% of those people lost money. So don’t feel embarrassed if you too have been tricked by wrong number text scams.

The good news is there are plenty of ways you can protect yourself and prevent your personal information from falling into the wrong hands.

What is a wrong number text scam?

You’re probably familiar with fraudulent phone calls from scammers claiming to be the IRS, debt relief, or even your bank. But have you ever received a text scam? Scammers will pose as someone you don’t know, like a match on a dating app or site. The scammer is hoping you’ll reply back with, “Sorry, wrong number” or “I think this is meant for someone else.” If you engage with their initial message, they’ll strike up a conversation, even attempting to catfish you with photographs. Once they think they’ve earned your trust, scammers will ask for personal information, such as your name, address, social security number, or credit card information. By the time you realize what’s going on, it’s too late.

Another common wrong number text scam is a message from a concerned neighbor. They may claim their dog is missing or ask if you’ve seen their child come home yet. Even though you don’t know this person, it’s easy to feel sympathetic and respond to the message or even offer to help them find their lost dog or child.

How can you avoid a wrong number text scam?

Woman learning how to avoid wrong number text scams

While the threat of scams can be scary, there are some ways you can proactively protect yourself from scams.

Ignore texts from strangers

If you received a text from a number you don’t recognize, don’t respond unless you’re sure that you know who is texting you. Responding to scammers tells them the number is active. You’re likely to receive more text scams in the future if you engage with scammers.

To best protect yourself, never send photographs or personal information to someone you haven’t met in person before. Just as you become more aware of types of fraud, scammers also become smarter and find new ways to trick innocent people.

Block scammers

Avoid wrong number text scams by blocking scammers.

Along with ignoring texts from strange numbers, you should also block known scammers to prevent them from contacting you from that number. After blocking the number, don’t let your guard down. The same scammer could contact you from alternative numbers, not to mention other kinds of fraud, such as phone and social media scams.

Report scammers to the authorities

Even if the scam was unsuccessful, you should still report fraudulent activity to the authorities. Report scams to the Federal Trade Commission (FTC). The FTC accepts complaints of most types of scams, including phone calls, emails, computer support scams, demands for you to send money, sweepstakes offers, and identity theft. This is an important step to help the FTC learn more about different types of scams. Plus, it can help prevent scams from happening in the future.

If you send money or personal information to a scammer, you should also contact the appropriate third  parties. This includes your card issuer, bank, or online sellers. They may be able to help you get your money back or cancel the charge.

How can you prevent future scams?

Prevent future wrong number scams.

The most important thing you can do to avoid wrong number text scams is to stay aware of scams to make sure it doesn’t happen again. When you’re online, be on the lookout for suspicious or malicious activity. Make sure to educate your family and friends on new types of scams they might fall for.

Protect yourself online with CenturyLink Security and anti-virus by McAfee. This software provides you protection against malware, viruses, unsafe websites, and other online threats so you can browse with confidence.

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<a href="https://discover.centurylink.com/author/emilyr" target="_self">Emily Richey</a>

Emily Richey


Emily Richey is the Content Manager for the CenturyLink and Quantum Fiber blogs. A recent graduate of Pace University NYC, she's an avid reader and writer. She spends most of her free time in bookstores and cafes, seeking the perfect cup of coffee.