Scammers are texting you from your own number now, what to do about it

Have you been getting weird text messages lately – from yourself?

Do not worry, you’re not alone, and you’re probably not having an out-of-body experience. The latest trend in spam text messages involves mobile phone users receiving texts from what appears to be their own phone number.

The messages typically claim to be from the user’s wireless carrier, referencing the recipient’s wireless bill and including a link to a “free gift.” Spoiler alert: The link leads to potentially malicious websites instead, according to users on Reddit and Twitter.

It’s all potentially very confusing. Here’s what you need to know about these spam texts, and what you can do about them:

Why am I getting these texts?

Robokiller, a company that makes a mobile app to block spam calls and texts, said it had tracked more than 5,000 incidents of the same-number spam text messages over the past week, as of Thursday.

According to Robokiller, typical versions of the spam texts feature messages that say, “Free Msg: Your bill is paid for March,” along with a dubious link that claims to offer a free gift. In other cases, the spam message includes a link that claims to take the recipient to a Verizon survey, according to CNET.

A writer for The Verge noted that clicking on the link in one particular message took the writer to the website for Channel One Russia, a television network run by the Russian government. “We have no indication of any Russian involvement” in the spam texts, Young said.

A spokesman for AT&T told CNBC Make It: “We are monitoring this situation closely and have not seen anything similar on our network.” A spokesperson for T-Mobile did not immediately respond to CNBC Make It’s request for comment.

What about other kinds of spam texts?

What can I do about it?

Security experts suggest that you should always be wary of answering phone calls or text messages from unidentified or unknown numbers.

The FCC adds that you should “never share your personal or financial information via email, text messages, or over the phone.” The agency also advises against clicking on links or attachments you receive in any text message, and to call your friend who texts you a link before clicking, to make sure they were not hacked.

Verizon offers similar advice for dealing with potential phishing attacks involving suspicious texts. The company says you should not respond to suspicious messages at all. Instead, Verizon advises customers to forward spam texts, particularly those claiming to be from Verizon, to SPAM (7726).

You can also report potential spam texts and emails to government agencies and law enforcement, including filling out the Federal Trade Commission’s online fraud complaint form and the Federal Bureau of Investigation’s Internet Crime Complaint Center.

If you do click on a malicious link, experts say your best bet is to avoid entering any information, and disconnect your device from the internet as soon as possible. Then, go into your device’s settings, check for any apps you do not remember downloading and delete them.

You can also use an antivirus app to scan your device for malware, and change the passwords of any accounts you think may have been compromised. If you think any of your personal or financial information might have been compromised, you can also freeze your credit for free, to avoid potential identity theft.

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