Apr 18, 2022 - Technology

Dodging scams

An illustration of a internet tab with a red flag being moved.

Illustration: Rebecca Zisser/Axios

You are getting slammed with more annoying spam calls — and now annoying texts on your cell phone — than at any point in the history of these devices.

Why it matters: These junk messages do more than irritate. They often try to steal your data, identity and money — and they're getting better and better. So here are some tips, from spam experts, on how to protect yourself.

  1. Think twice. Don't answer calls or respond to texts from numbers you don't recognize — even if the area code indicates that the number is local. Scammers are getting smarter and know how to target you with a familiar-looking number.
  2. Verify everything. If you get what looks like a request for information or a bill from a government organization or retailer, call up that agency or company to verify that it's real. Scammers know you're likelier to engage if they offer to pay off your student loans or tell you there's an issue with your online shopping order.
  3. Don't click. Never click a link in a text from a number you don't know. Don't even hit a button if you get a robocall that tells you to press a certain key on your phone to stop getting calls. Getting you to click on something is one of the quickest ways for scammers to get your personal information.
  4. Report it. You can quickly forward spam text messages to 7726 to report them.
  5. Get ahead. Get yourself on the government's Do Not Call list to avoid telemarketers.

Go deeper: The federal government has easy-to-digest guides on how to dodge spam calls and texts.

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