Rockford BBB Warns Of “Wrong Number” Text Scam
That wrong number text you got might not have been an innocent mistake after all, according to the Rockford Regional Office of the Better Business Bureau (BBB).
It might not have even been sent from a human being, either. It may have been from something called a "Chat Bot."
It May Have Appeared To Be A Wrong Number, But Chat Bots Don't Make That Mistake
Chat Bots can be used for many purposes, and most of them are used in the areas of customer service, information gathering, and request routing. However, in the right hands (or wrong ones), Chat Bots can be used for malicious purposes, too.
Malicious chatbots are frequently used to fill chat rooms with spam and advertisements, by mimicking human behavior and conversations or to entice people into revealing personal information, such as bank account numbers. They were commonly found on Yahoo! Messenger, Windows Live Messenger, AOL Instant Messenger and other instant messaging protocols. There has also been a published report of a chatbot used in a fake personal ad on a dating service's website.
Now, they're being used to trick you into a conversation that may lead to you losing money, personal information, or worse.
Just Let That Wrong Number Text Go, Because Replying To It Is When Trouble Starts
As the BBB explains, you get a text from someone you don't know who seems to think that you're someone else. They mention names and places that you're not familiar with, or an event that you never attended. Instead of just not replying, you go ahead and tell them that they've got the wrong number. That's mistake number one.
If You Reply, They Reply And Try To Get You To Do Things Or Give Them Information
The BBB says that you should avoid a reply, because instead of thanking you for the help, the would-be scammers instead consider that an invitation to go after you:
If you continue to engage with the stranger, who is really a chat bot, it tries to trick you into registering for dating or adult websites. Your new “friend” will encourage you to sign up for a specific website to see more explicit photos, which may involve offering up your credit card number. Considering the dubious nature of this scam, if you hand over your credit card information at any point, you could be putting yourself at risk for fraudulent charges and identity theft.