Yes, Your Own Phone Number Is Spamming You

Yes, Your Own Phone Number Is Spamming You
Photo: fizkes, Shutterstock

At this point, we’re all used to receiving spam texts: Messages purporting to be from your carrier offering you a “gift” for paying your bill, or from “Netflix” asking you to open a link and “update your subscription.” These attempts to rip you off aren’t unusual. What is unusual is when these texts come not from a strange source, but from your own phone number.

Receiving a spam text from your own number doesn’t mean you’ve been hacked, though it might seem that way at first. You grumble at receiving yet another awful spam text, only to notice the assailant isn’t some unknown grifter, but you.

But no, your number hasn’t been compromised, nor does it mean hackers have stolen your information. This type of spam attack is called “spoofing,” wherein a bad actor sends a message not through their actual email address or phone number, but from whatever source they please — including, increasingly, your own phone number.

These phishing attempts are as laughable as they are transparent. Good job, spammers: You figured out how to send a text from my own phone number, and you’re using that power to carry out the same tired scams you were before. Why would I think the scam is real this time, because it looks like I sent it to myself?

Is there anything you can do about the problem? Well, you have the same two options you do when you receive any spam messages: You can report them to your carrier, or file a complaint with the FCC.

But what happens when you report your own phone number to your carrier? To report a spam text, you first forward it to 7726 (SPAM), then follow that message up with the sender’s phone number. Well, hello, that’s your number now. What good is that going to do? Moreover, carriers are well aware of the content of these sorts of spam messages already, and they seem unwilling or unable to deal with them effectively.

That leaves the option of reporting them to the FCC, which might be your best bet — the more formal complaints the organisation receives about this issue, the more likely it is they will pressure the carriers to act, and find an actual solution. Still, neither course of action feels particularly effective. There’s simply not much you can do as a consumer to stop the flood of spam headed your way. Carriers really need to fix this problem on their end.

And it should go without saying, but please don’t interact with or open any of these spammy links. While sometimes they’re innocuous — there are recent reports of fake texts that do nothing more than lead to a Russian state TV website — some links could lead to places more nefarious.

[The Verge]

  

Comments

  • This is fairly common knowledge for last 3+ years.
    Also to watch out for … SMS from a mobile number that is slightly different to your own … EG. 04XXXXXXX1/2/3/4/5/etc.

    Luckily the major telco’s these days are trying to stop this sort of thing.
    EG. telstra’s recent spam blocking (at the telco level).

    Ultimately … we really need to overhaul how (virtual) phone numbers work … currently, an incoming call/sms can say that their originating number can be anything they desire that they’ve plucked out of thin air.

    There is no actual checking/security done to “ensure they truly are who they say they are”.

    Main reason this came into existence … due to companies + PBX networks (hence showing only 1 main inbound-call number for as “point of contact”.

    Similar to how DNS + Domain checking has recently evolved.
    We need something for mobile + virtual + physical numbers too !!!

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