SMS News

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July 03, 2016

Research Shows 'Texting Rhythm' in Brainwaves

 

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A new study shows that texting can change a human’s brain waves. According to researchers, people who use their smartphones to send text messages have what’s referred to as a “texting rhythm” that’s detectable upon evaluation of their brains.

Little is known about the neurological effects of smartphones on humans, aside from this bit of fresh fodder; but scientists are coming to find out more about how our brains function while using the devices. The study analyzed data from 129 participants, all whom were monitored for more than 15 months via video footage and electroencephalograms (EEGs). It found the unique “rhythm” in about one out of five participants, all of whom had their brain waves monitored as they used their smartphones to send texts.

 

The Mayo Clinic Study

Researchers working at the Mayo Clinic in the United States found this “texting rhythm” after asking study participants to take part in various activities using their smartphones, such as sending normal text messages, tapping their fingers on their devices’ screen, and using the phones’ audio telephone capabilities. All of these tasks were to evaluate cognitive and attention function.

Only sending text messages caused the brain rhythm to change in study participants. Researchers think that it’s the combination of auditory-verbal and motor neurological activity, combined with mental activity, that creates these unique brainwaves. Further, there seems to be no correlation between the “texting rhythm” and the participants’ demographic profiles, such as gender, age, detection of an existing brain lesion, or epileptic history.

 

Further Findings Including iPad Use

William Tatum, director of the epilepsy center and the epilepsy-monitoring unit at the Mayo Clinic, led the study and says that the new brain rhythm is largely connected to a vastly distributed network that is increased by emotion or attention. He states that the “texting rhythm” is an “objective metric” of the human brain’s capability of processing non-verbal data while using an electronic device.

Researchers hypothesized that the “texting rhythm” might only be found in participants using mobile devices that could fit in their hands, because these devices have small screens and require greater concentration. They saw, however, that the rhythm was also present in the participants who messaged on iPads. 

 

Can We Use This Data to Reach Any Conclusions?

The Mayo Clinic study could provide significant implications when it comes to conversations about interfacing with computers and even driving. Tatum says that we now have a biological reason to refrain from texting and driving. Texting changes brain waves, so people (especially heavy-texting millennials) need to avoid doing so while operating a car.

Tatum also states that there is a lot more research that needs to be done to understand the brain responses generated when a human sends a text. The complete Mayo Clinic study was published in Epilepsy and Behaviour, a medical journal.

June 30, 2016

How Mobile Technology Is Providing Food Security Data in DRC

 

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In many rural places of the world that have shortages of food, such as the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) where one in 10 people do not have enough to eat, the Word Food Programme (WFP) relies on food monitoring systems operated via mobile technology. In the Democratic Republic of Congo, which is the second-largest country in Africa and a land filled with fertile soil and abundant rivers, food insecurity or “the availability and adequate access at all times to sufficient, safe, and nutritious food” remains a concern and a crisis.

The Democratic Republic of Congo has been involved in wars and rebellions for the last 20 years or more. Like countries in similar circumstances, it has had its entire food system disrupted and much of its population displaced. The WFP is using new mobile technology to monitor, and provide, food in these vulnerable communities. It has been using smartphones and voice recognition software to collect food security information on a regular basis since 2014.

 

Vulnerability Analysis and Mapping (mVAM)

Vulnerability Analysis and Mapping (mVAM) is a project that 15 countries throughout the world have implemented to monitor food security. The first pilot for the program took place in Eastern Democratic Republic of Congo, and its successfully been replicated in Mugunga III, which is a site that hosts more than 4,600 people near Goma. These early mobile data collection projects in DRC will likely be copied in other areas of the province, in the months ahead, and food price collection information will be introduced throughout the nation. 

The primary goal of mVAM is to gather data on food access, price, consumption and coping mechanisms (per household level) remotely. This allows the WFP to access food security in a specific zone in a better way, and it lets the organization provide emergency help if possible. Each month, WFP employees Jean-Marie Kaseku and Mireille Hangi call nearly 300 respondents who live in Mugunga II, and they ask them several targeted and specific questions. They want to know exactly how many days out of the last seven they ate protein, fats, and cereals. They inquire about what coping mechanisms they used if they did not have enough food to eat. They hope to find out if individuals had to borrow money to eat, reduce rations so all family members could eat, or decrease daily meal intake.

 

Remote Data Collection Proves Easier

In countries where infrastructure, like roads, has been damaged, it’s often difficult to know if populations are eating and thriving. Without a means to meet face to face for interviews, remote data collection proves more flexible. This method for gathering data is also more cost effective and quicker. Compare a phone call and technological analysis of data to other methods, such as in-person interviews that cost $20 to $40 per family or transcription of those meetings that might take four to six weeks.

The WFP project is particularly useful in areas of extreme vulnerability and illiteracy. With the mobile food security data collection project, the WFP is able to understand at a more effective level what people need and how to get it to them.

June 23, 2016

SMS Can Help Smokers Kick the Habit

 

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Data collected from multiple recent studies show that SMS messages can help smokers kick their habits. Research focused on smokers receiving encouraging messages like “Be strong” and “You can do it!” revealed that these text interventions are helpful in getting smokers to abstain.

The researchers behind the study used meta analysis, a technique that combines findings from many independent studies, to arrive at their conclusion. The scientific team analyzed 20 manuscripts that documented 22 SMS messaging interventions dealing with curbing smoking in 20 countries. It sought out information about how mHealth text messaging – with a specific health issue in mind – could directly impact decisions made by individuals that could positively impact their states of wellness.

 

mHealth Via SMS Service to Meet People Where They Are

Receiving a personalized message regarding a health issue might be what it takes to get an individual to finally make the connection that choices are contributing to sickness. This is the focus of the mHealth text messages that are delivered straight to those who have agreed to participate in the trial. The SMS messages are short, direct, and supportive comments that remind receives about poor health choices and offer education. They’re messages a friend might send, and more.

The SMS interventions ideally will be adapted to suit the participants’ lives and natural environments. They’ll be on-point, regularly scheduled, convenient reminders to take immediate action toward smoking cessation (and hopefully other bad lifestyle choices in the future).

 

More Research and Trials are Needed

 

The study’s lead researcher, Lori Scott-Sheldon from Brown University, says that the evidence revealed in the trials provides inarguable support for the effectiveness of SMS messaging interventions. She offers that these messages have absolutely reduced smoking behavior, but more research is necessary to understand exactly how the interventions work, why they work, and under what conditions they’re most effective.

The Journal of Medical Internet Research published the study. Scott-Sheldon added that tobacco use is a preventable health issue and one of the leading preventable concerns. This is why, she purports, text messaging shows such promise. The SMS services are low cost, they’re able to reach a wide audience, and they don’t take many resources to implement. The mHealth messages, Sheldon-Scott says, should be a “public health priority” so that smokers can get the intervention they desperately need. 

Since SMS messaging has reached near-market saturation, it makes sense that the technology be used as an easy, cost-effective, and direct means to get health information out to the public – and to hopefully influence individuals in a way that creates immediate positive changes in their lifestyles. 

There are not many groups in the United States, or in the world, who do not have access to text messaging, and therefore the potential for an SMS service like the stop-smoking texts is great. A senior research scientist at The Mirian Hospitals Centres for Behavioural and Preventative Medicine, Beth Bock says that widespread availability of a good stop-smoking program can make a powerful statement – and impact – on public health.

June 22, 2016

'Marcher' Malware Targeting European Bank Customers

 

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Android mobile device users in the UK have a serious potential problem to deal with. A destructive piece of malware that steals banking usernames and passwords, called “Marcher” malware, is targeting their private information.

“Marcher” has been ripping off Android users’ logins since 2013, when the cyber fraud program entered the underground forums for Russian speakers. In the beginning, the malware only went after credit card info by overlaying a phony screen on the Google Play store, which asked for credit card numbers, expiration dates, and codes from users. Then it targeted large banks and financial services, focusing on companies in Germany.

The evolution of Marcher now threatens those who bank with financial companies in Germany, the UK, France, Austria, Turkey, and Australia. Marcher only attacks Android devices; there are no reports of an iOS Marcher malware version.

 

Specific Targets Within the Android Market

Android users who have the popular KitKat, Jelly Bean, and Lollipop versions installed on their mobile devices are among those hardest hit with the Marcher malware infection, according to Check Point security company researchers. These users have frequently been receiving phishing emails that purport to be a Flash update. After users click the links in their emails, which they think will let them upgrade their OS and safeguard their devices against identity theft and data loss, Marcher’s process of devastation starts.

The three-step road to havoc involves deception and trickery, as users are coaxed into enabling the installation of the malicious app (outside of the Google Play store) and installing it, which leads to the fake overlay screens popping up on bank apps to gather personal information. These overlays are made to look like necessary components of users’ approved banking applications. Check Point says that they’re easy to create and often programmed by individuals that the original malware operators have outsourced.

 

Banking Apps Are the Target, But Not the Only Victim

About 88 percent of the apps that Marcher targets are banking applications, but this malware also goes after airline, ecommerce, and payment system apps. The primary goal of the malware is to steal login information, which allows easy access to personal information, funds, and more.

IBM says that Marcher’s capabilities turn users’ mobile devices into tools that can harvest authentication elements and credentials whenever the criminals’ needs arise. When a mobile phone or tablet becomes infected with Marcher, those who control the malware can continue to send text messages encouraging users to go to their mobile banking apps and give up private details. This is often done by sending an SMS message that claims money has deposited into a user’s account. 

IBM states that users are typically curious, and that they follow up on the SMS message by checking their accounts right away for the unexpected transfers. Unfortunately, the fake overlay is waiting for them, and it steals their banking credentials. This is possible because the Trojan hijacks the text message, and it fetches for overlays that match a long list of banking apps that the user might have on his or her device. 

These deceptions are just a couple of the ways that Marcher is creating mayhem for Android users. As is true with other malware programs, a crucial way to avoid the devastation is to carefully monitor the SMS messages that arrive on your mobile devices. IBM suggests that Android users not follow any URLs from text messages or emails that offer unexpected perks, bonuses, problems, or tools. It’s best to treat these messages with extreme caution, and to delete them immediately and follow up on issues of concern by phone or on a separate device.

June 08, 2016

How mHealth Tech Is Helping Stroke Recovery

 

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Each year, nearly 800,000 people experience a new or recurrent stroke—an attack on the brain caused by a loss of blood flow, which can result in disabilities such as memory loss, speech impairment, and limited mobility.  

During a stroke, brain cells lose the blood flow they need to stay alive. When brain cells die, it can cause permanent disability, depending on how serious the stoke was and in what area of the brain blood loss occurred. 

More than two-thirds of stroke survivors will experience some type of disability. For patients recovering from a stroke, therapy is one way to improve the cognitive functions that are often disabled after a serious attack. 

 

Mobile Tech Improves Stroke Recovery 

In a recent study conducted by Constant Therapy, researchers found that stroke survivors who engaged in at-home therapy featuring customized brain rehabilitation software, like an app, increased their cognitive, speech accuracy, and processing speed during recovery. 

Each stroke is different, and each survivor will need different therapy to reconstruct or reconfigure the areas of the brain that suffered damage during the stroke. Constant Therapy has designed an app that allows doctors and caregivers to customize the treatment plan to focus on the different brain areas that control specific brain functions. 

The company analyzed 20 million therapy exercises, as well as 100 million data points. Combining this big data with a mobile platform will continue to improve the customization capabilities of the mHealth program. 

“The more data we collect, the better our algorithms become,” said Keith Cooper, CEO of Constant Therapy.

Plus, having the therapy available in an app, and for various mobile devices, allows patients to maintain therapy programs at home, not just while they’re in the hospital. 

Stoke survivors that incorporated at-home therapies, like Constant Therapy’s app, received 5 times more therapy than those only receiving therapy at a clinic. 

The more survivors engage with the app, the faster and more thorough their recovery. Processing speed in language and cognitive exercise increased more than 80 percent for patients who completed more than 500 experiences on the mHealth app. 

 

mHealth to the Recue 

Commonly referred to as mHealth, mobile technology affords both providers and patients more control over their wellness plans, before and after a catastrophic event like a stroke, heart attack, or other serious medical emergency. 

In fact, it’s estimated that the mHealth solutions market will be worth nearly $60 billion by 2020. This includes an explosion of growth in a number of mobile services focused on monitoring, managing, diagnosing, and recovery therapies for patients and providers. 

The risk of stroke can be reduced by regular exercise, eating well, not smoking, and monitoring blood pressure and cholesterol. Unfortunately, stokes can happen to just about anyone without warning. 

The good news is that we’re getting better at helping survivors get back to normalcy. And with mHealth solutions, you can engage in these treatments from the comfort of home. 

May 11, 2016

The Hottest New Trends in Mobile Marketing

 

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The mobile revolution has taken serious root, with marketers scrambling to make their websites mobile-friendly, create new and exciting apps, and otherwise drive traffic and increase revenue through mobile means. This is the mobile age, and with that in mind let’s check out some of the hottest new trends taking over mobile marketing: 

 

“Smarter” Social Messaging Apps

There’s greater selection regarding social messaging apps than ever before, with options now including Snapchat, WhatsApp, Kik, Peach, WeChat, and Facebook Messenger. People chat anytime, anywhere in today’s world, and about half of mobile phone users in the United States are predicted to rely on mobile messaging by the end of the year. The evolution of social media apps is already evident in China, where 91% of Internet users favor instant messaging over search. 

Platforms allow users to send multimedia messages, make payments, or use video call. They’re even used as interfaces for bot-driven interactions. 

 

Blurring Lines Among Apps, Social Media, And E-Commerce

Integration among apps and their social media and e-commerce outlets is a hot new mobile trend this year. Many social platforms are linking e-commerce features into their social media networks, such as Instagram’s “Shop Now” feature and Pinterest’s “Buyable Pins.” People didn’t used to shop on social media platforms, but the more seamless the integration, the more likely shopping on such platforms will become the norm. 

 

Branded Keyboards

A wide variety of branded keyboards are available through a mobile device’s app store, and function as ideal branding options. They allow companies to remain where they want, i.e. in consumers’ faces, without being a source of interruption or annoyance. App use equals keyboard use, meaning this type of branded engagement is far-reaching. Recent research indicates the average mobile device user works on the keyboard over 100 times per day, with branded keyboard leader Kibo seeing millions of downloads a month. And that was just in the company’s first year of operation. 

 

Apps=Lifestyle Reflections

In 2016 apps are expected to become integral parts of consumer lives as opposed to individual features that people turn to on occasion. Examples of apps as “lifestyle reflections” include fitness apps that offer weather alerts before a run and remind the person it’s time to pick up the dry cleaning. 

Lifestyle apps also increasingly indicate values. Think of consumers saying “I’m a proud fan or supporter of [x and y], which is why I use these [branded] apps.” 

 

More From Search Engine Results

Videos are already cropping up in Google’s search results, but the media giant is going a step further by experimenting with video ads. Should consumers take to video ads appearing in their search results, apps may also make appearances in SERPs. App directories and recommendations are already there, however apps as part of search engine results is a whole other thing. Such implementation will provide stores and directories with an exciting new set of opportunities. 

These and other trends are changing the marketing landscape, and mean marketers must remain that much more aware of current and future mobile trends. 

 

May 10, 2016

Text Messaging Can Help Reduce Hospital Stays

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Paging a doctor or physician has been the primary means of communication in hospitals for many years. If you’ve been to a hospital, or watched your fair share of General Hospital or Grey’s Anatomy, you know how this goes. But there are a lot of breakdowns and loopholes in this process; understanding and closing these gaps was what one study set out to do, by integrating secure text messaging.

 

Secure Text Messaging 

The Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania conducted the study, which was recently published in the Journal of Internal General Medicine and authored by several physicians, including Mitesh S. Patel, MD, MBA, MS.

The study included more than 10,000 patients at the Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania and Penn Presbyterian Medial Center; both facilities participated in the yearlong study that took place between 2013 and 2014.

In addition to discussing the importance of closing these time-sensitive gaps in coordination, the study concluded that better communication resulted in reduced time at the hospital for most patients; patients whose care teams used the secure text messaging systems left the hospital .77 days earlier, according to the report. 

 

Why Now?

Until recently, email and SMS text messaging platforms were strictly prohibited by hospitals. Most platforms didn’t offer the security features needed to align with current regulatory polices. But as mHealth and mobile communications have developed, many of these issues have been resolved. 

The advancement of mobile technology, smartphones, and wireless communication preempted a lot of issues in the healthcare industry. According to Dr. Patel, it’s about time the medical field caught up with the 21st century. 

“Many forms of communications within the hospital are shifting mediums in part due to the rising adoption of smartphones and new mobile applications,” said Patel. 

 

A Communication Correlation 

Until this study, whether hospitals were using mHealth platforms like SMS or not, most physicians were unaware of any link mobile technology might have with the real time a patient spent in a hospital. Thanks to Patel and the co-authors of the study, that link has been significantly illustrated. 

“Healthcare innovation is more than just using the newest smartphone app,” explained co-author David A. Asch, MD, MBA. “It involves carefully designed implementation and thoughtful evaluation of its impact on clinical care.”

Medical teams can use these secure text-messaging programs to communicate in groups with various healthcare providers simultaneously. They can share data and patient history and gain more immediate access to information. Less waiting for the doctors means less waiting for the patient, freeing up hospital beds that are already in short supply

Using mHealth devices and technology is the most likely solution for many issues currently faced by our healthcare system. It’s likely that future studies will illuminate even more ways in which these devices affect patient care and treatment plans. 

April 30, 2016

Beware of the Latest iPhone Text Message Scam

 

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iPhone users beware! The latest text messaging scam may be easy to fall for, and if you do, you risk scammers gaining access to your Apple ID and any information you have associated with it.

 

iPhone Text Message Asks for Your Apple ID and Password

If you own an iPhone and you receive a text asking you to confirm your Apple ID, and password, be very leery of it. Don’t act without researching, no matter how legit it appears, because it might be the latest text message scam targeted specifically at iPhone users. 

The text message goes something like this (and it’s personalized, to make it look even more legitimate):

“Dear Vitty your Apple ID is due to expire today. To prevent termination, confirm your details at http://appleidlogin.com.uk - Apple Support.”

 

Repeat! This text message is a scam so don’t click on it! 

The goal of the fake text message is to gain access to users’ private information, not to employ any malicious code on the iPhone. Tech-savvy users might spot right away that this message is phony, but it can seem completely plausible to those less in-the-know, for instance mom or dad. So, protect yourself, and share this text messaging scam with your friends and family. 

The phishing scam directs iPhone users to a web page that asks for their Apple ID and password. Upon close examination of the circumstances, many iPhone users will realize that their Apple account should not be in jeopardy of being closed. But, sometimes people react without thinking upon receiving a message like this.

 

Don’t Be Tricked Into Revealing Personal and Important Information

It’s critical that technology users stay on top of their IDs, passwords, account expiration dates, and user agreements with various companies. That way, risk of trickery and loss are reduced. Don’t be tricked into believing something a text message tells you will, or will not, happen or you could end up sorry.

This latest iPhone text messaging scam not only urges users to offer up Apple IDs and passwords, but it also asks for credit card information. This should be another clue that the messages are fake.

What is particularly dangerous about this latest text message scam is that it looks rather professional compared to other messages sent by hackers and scammers. There are no spelling mistakes, and there is no awkward language. It’s a simple request that appears quite like actual messages Apple would send.

If you receive this message, or anything like it, give careful consideration to its legitimacy. Don’t give out personal information to any site that you arrived at via text message link. Instead, go directly to a company’s website, log in with your ID and password, and see if there are actions you must take regarding your account from there. 

April 04, 2016

How to Give Away a Million Burgers with Mobile Coupons

 

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Recently, the fast food chain Jack in the Box announced it was giving away one million of its new double-stacked, buttery-bun hamburgers. The “Declaration of Delicious” giveaway announcement came in the form of a Superbowl 50 commercial, and was designed to promote the restaurant chain’s new menu. 

 

Coupon Fun … And Fraud?

Consumers had one week to claim their free burgers. Doing so required making a visit to the Jack in the Box website and signing up to receive a mobile coupon for a free Double Jack or Jumbo Jack burger. 

However, coupon fraud is an issue that isn’t going away anytime soon, so how was it possible for one of the biggest burger chains in the United States to give away one million burgers without more than a few people claiming more than a few coupons? 

 

The Mobile Coupon Solution

In the old days, print coupons would have made the Jack in the Box giveaway a prime target for fraud. Today’s mobile coupons have all but eradicated the issue, with Jack in the Box combining online and offline tools to sidestep fraud-related problems. The restaurant chain sent redeemable codes over text or email to those who signed up to receive the coupon; the codes featured expiration dates. Guests had to either bring the printed versions of the online coupon to the restaurant, or show the codes to a staff member on a mobile device. 

 

What Consumers Preferred

Unsurprisingly, guests overwhelmingly favored the mobile version of the Jack in the Box coupons. Research by CodeBroker noted 70 percent to 80 percent of emailed coupons are viewed on mobile phones, while 20 percent to 30 percent of said coupons get printed. Overall, pulling up a coupon code is considered to be much easier than taking the time to print it.

In terms of email and SMS, consumers generally prefer receiving coupon codes via SMS. The percentage of those who indicate SMS as their favored methods for receiving deals and discounts has continued to rise over the past few years, something that’s very likely to continue. 

 

A Few Suggestions

The Jack in the Box promotion offers several lessons for marketers looking to refine their mobile tactics. For example, it’s been suggested that the restaurant chain emphasized its mobile app as a means of obtaining mobile coupons directly, as higher redemption rates come from app coupons, according to CodeBroker. Another suggestion marketers might consider for their own mobile marketing campaigns is one-time-use coupons at checkout. Generic promo codes generally result in more fraud.

Jack in the Box also missed a golden opportunity to collect information on consumer behavior throughout its burger campaign, starting with issuance and followed by redemption, location, and expiration. One-time-use coupons provide the chance to collect such analytics, and allow for tailored demographic segmentation and new campaign re-targeting. 

What’s the moral of this mobile marketing story? Jack in the Box did a fine job with its mobile marketing campaign, but failed to capitalize on a few key avenues. Mobile marketers would do well to fill in these holes in their own efforts. 

 

April 03, 2016

Pinnacle Bank SMS Scam Hits Nebraska

 

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The people of Columbus, Nebraska, and nearby areas have been targeted by a text message scam. The local police department used social media to issue a warning, asking people to be especially weary of text messages requesting users to reply with personal banking information. 

 

What Is Text Fraud?

Text fraud, or phishing, has become increasingly popular among online criminals. This particular scammer targeted random phone numbers in and around Columbus and posed as local Pinnacle Bank. The text asked users to tap a link that would prompt them to verify their account information (even if they weren’t a bank customer), which gave the criminals access to users’ personal information. 

This isn’t the first time bad SMS news has hit the mainstream. Text fraud in particular is increasingly invasive on our mobile phones, and a serious problem for financial institutions around the world. Just last month, several banks in Australia were pawns in an SMS scam; 9 banks in total were part of an elaborate and sophisticated ploy that asked bank customers to check or verify private account information. 

The text messages alone don’t do any damage, but they’re designed to look and sound like the real deal. The Federal Trade Commission advises anyone who receives these types of text messages to delete them immediately. According to the FTC website, “Legitimate businesses don’t ask you to send sensitive information through insecure channels.”

Needless to say, text messaging is not a secure form of communication, even though 80 percent of text-savvy consumers use text for business. Working with banks or other private institutions via text isn’t the problem, and people shouldn’t be afraid to engage in SMS activity if they prefer that form of communication. However, everyone should be aware that the service businesses are able to provide via text are very limited, and they should never ask for private account information via text.

Online criminals commonly request things like usernames, passwords, and social security numbers; even something as simple as your address, phone number, or date of birth could compromises your identity. They’ll often use aggressive tactics to urge you to action, threatening to close accounts or discontinue service if the user does not respond. 

 

Protecting Yourself

The best thing to do if you ever suspect text fraud or a phishing scam is ignore the communication and notify the business the text claims to be coming from. The FTC also recommends that you protect yourself with security software, and keep your phone as updated as possible. Keep an eye on your credit reports and financial information. If you see anything that looks suspicious, catching it early can save you a lot of time and grief. And finally, report text fraud to the proper authorities, like The Anti-Phishing Working Group, which includes ISPs, security vendors, financial institutions, and law enforcement agencies.