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Verizon goes after bad actors behind own-number spams

Verizon customers have recently been receiving spam text messages from their own mobile numbers. Over the course of the past few days, multiple Verizon customers shared screenshots of a text message asking them to click on a link that opens a supposed gift in their name. And the odd problem here is that users can’t simply block the source since that would essentially be blocking their own phone number.

“Your bill is paid for March. Thanks, here’s a little gift for you,” says the spam message. After being inundated with complaints on its official support channel and social media platforms such as Twitter and Reddit, Verizon has finally reached out to law enforcement officials. Verizon’s official support handle announced on Twitter that it was aware of bad actors flooding customers’ inboxes with spam messages and that it was actively blocking them.

For at least the last two days, @Verizon customers have been getting spammed with texts that are made to appear from our own phones.

This disguised link leads to the live feed of Russian propaganda website “1TV.”

The delivery method has potential for a lot of damage. pic.twitter.com/gwE8Nn5twa

— Kristofer Goldsmith (@KrisGoldsmith85) March 29, 2022

Verizon hasn’t shared an official course of action directed at all the affected customers, but a support executive mentions on the official community forum that the carrier can’t confirm if the link was valid, and that users should avoid clicking on it. The Verge reports that the link directs users to Russian TV networks. Even though that sounds harmless, there’s also a chance that the webpage is loaded with malware and can actually lead to scams with any subsequent clicks.

Just over a week ago, President Joe Biden also flagged the risk of state-sponsored cyberattacks following the imposition of sanctions on Russia. According to a CNN report, the FBI is aware of bad actors with Russian internet addresses scanning the networking infrastructure of five energy companies in the United States.

How to steer clear of SMS spam

There isn’t a definitive solution to protect oneself from all kinds of phishing attacks that exploit the SMS texting route, but there are certain preventive steps that minimize the risks. The first step is to avoid clicking links on any text message that claims to offer gifts or sounds too good to be true.

A risk-free strategy is reaching out to the carrier’s official customer support channel and getting the text message and its contents verified. In cases where the message appears to come from important places like banking or academic institutions, it is advised to check with their representatives before clicking on any link and submitting sensitive information.

An unknown message filter is displayed on an iPhone.

To ensure that you don’t get such messages, go ahead and block the suspicious phone number. The native messaging apps on both Android and iOS offer an easy blocking system. And if the option to report a shady phone number is available, exercise that action as well. Enabling the built-in spam filtering feature is also an effective method to avoid such scam texts.

To do it 0n an iPhone, follow this path: Settings > Messages > Filter Unknown Senders. Apple has an exhaustive support page where you can find all the details on how to avoid phishing scams and spams. On an Android phone, open the Messages app and long-press on a message in the list. Once it is selected, tap on the block icon in the top-right corner of the screen to report and block it at the same time.

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