‘Wrong number’ text scams and how to protect against them


September 29, 2023

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‘Wrong number’ text scams and how to protect against them

People accidentally text the wrong number all the time, and we’re sure you too have received texts that were meant for somebody else at least once in your lifetime.

Unfortunately, wrong-number texts are no longer just innocent mistakes. Scammers now intentionally send wrong-number texts to catch you off guard and exploit your friendliness, sympathy and kindness for financial gain.

These texts though are not so obvious from the beginning, with no red flags such as suspicious links or mentions of you winning a prize.

How the scam works

Malicious individuals send innocent texts addressed to someone else about a party, medical appointment or business meeting. Once you’ve texted the person back with a message like “Sorry, wrong number,” the scammer tries to pull you into a friendly conversation. Some even try to cultivate a romantic long-distance relationship with victims who are coerced into sending them money or investing in cryptocurrency schemes.

Fraudsters who deploy such social engineering schemes have a lot of patience, playing the long game with multiple victims at once in an attempt to achieve their goals. They prey on your friendliness and slowly but surely lure you into some sort of scam.

The FBI has issued a warning about such texts, advising recipients to not respond or click on any links (if present).

“The scammers behind the fake wrong-number text messages are counting on you to continue the conversation,” the FBI said. “They want to exploit your friendliness. Once they’ve made a connection, they’ll work to become friends or even cultivate a remote romantic relationship. It’s all a ruse, designed to get you to relax your mistrust so you’ll be more susceptible to falling for their scam, such as a cryptocurrency investment or many others targeting victims.”

The best way to protect against wrong-number text scams is to ignore them completely. If you do happen to respond to such texts, don’t feel tempted to continue the conversation.

You’ve already acted politely, and you shouldn’t feel obliged to continue a conversation with a stranger.

Make sure to delete the message and block the number to avoid getting spammed in the future. Never share personal info or details about your workplace, how much money you make or your home address.

Bitdefender’s Scam Alert feature can help you fend off scams and malicious links delivered through SMS, messaging apps, and notifications. The feature is available in our Bitdefender Mobile Security solution (for Android and iOS) and together with the Web Protection module can help you safeguard your data and money against dangerous e-threats.

Read more about our solutions, here.




Alina is a history buff passionate about cybersecurity and anything sci-fi, advocating Bitdefender technologies and solutions. She spends most of her time between her two feline friends and traveling.

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