Many Verizon customers reported receiving the text messages on Tuesday. The messages appeared to be sent from the customer’s own name and number and read, “Free Msg: Your bill is paid for March. Thanks, here’s a little gift for you,” with a link.
A spokesman for Verizon confirmed Wednesday that it was aware of the situation, blaming “bad actors” for the messages.
“As part of a recent fraud scheme, bad actors have been sending text messages to some Verizon customers which appear to come from the customers’ own number,” Verizon’s Corporate Communications Director Rich Young said in an emailed statement. “Our company has significantly curtailed this current activity, but virtually all wireless providers have faced similar fraudulent activity in recent months.”
While Verizon believes the texts are fraudulent, Young said they do not believe they pose any threat to your cell phone. The best thing to do in this situation, he said, is just delete the message.
“We advise our customers to never open a text message or email that is unfamiliar or seems suspicious,” Young said. “They should always use caution and just delete something that is uncertain.”
So what happens if you did click the link? According to Young, the message is “making an offer” and the link seeks credit card information. Don’t provide any of that information, close the link and delete the message, he said.
Some customers who received the text from their own phone numbers, including an editor for The Verge, reported that the link in the message sent them to a Russian state media network. The messages come in the wake of President Joe Biden warning U.S. companies of potential Russian cyberattacks. However, Young said in his statement that Verizon has “no indication of any Russian involvement” with this recent scam.
“We are actively working with others in our industry and with U.S. law enforcement as part of an investigation aimed at identifying and stopping these fraudsters and their illegal actions, and we will continue this work on behalf of our customers,” Young said.
Earlier this month, Verizon announced new efforts to block spam texts from ever reaching customers’ phones. If you receive a spam text, you can copy the message and forward it to 7726 (SPAM) to report it, according to the Federal Trade Commission.