Text From Unknown Number, Knows My Name: Don't Panic, Here's What To Do

JAN 11, 2023 AT 02:50 PM

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We all receive spam phone calls, texts, and emails every day. For the most part, they are simply an annoyance. On odd occasions, we may be vaguely interested in what they have to offer. Multiple websites and search engines monitor our internet usage and send us information that 'matches our searches'. Sometimes they ask permission, sometimes not.

Frequently we are inundated with adverts during television programs, online games, movies, shopping centers, on billboards, and pretty much every way we turn. There is always someone trying to sell us something. You would think that we should be sensitized and can just ignore them.

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Advertising

Advertising campaigns know this, so now ask for your name, email address, and/or cell number to register when you want information. You then received umpteen 'personalized' emails or messages for the next six months, unless you can find the tiny words at the very bottom of the email that allows you to unsubscribe from future communication.

Even when you do unsubscribe they make you feel bad by telling you they are sorry to see you go and ask why.

Selling of Contact Details

Have you ever noticed that the second you have actually done business with your service provider, e.g. insurance company or mobile phone company, every other business in that field miraculously knows, even if you did not do business over the net?

You start receiving messages, phone calls, and emails wanting to sell you the exact thing that you have just bought. The reason for this is that companies sell your contact details to other companies. So much for your information remains private.

Is It Personal Or Not?

A message may begin with a simple greeting "Hello (your name), how are you? You expect the next part to read something like "We have an exciting offer just for you ..." or a personal favorite in the book of cold texting, "Your number has been randomly selected to receive (something that's supposed to be intriguing).

Instead, the message asks another question such as "Can I ask you a question?" or "I would like your opinion on ..." Another tactic to gain your attention and begin interacting with you. When confronted with this kind of scenario, bear these points in mind says Ashley Lewis in an article in Readers Digest, December 2022.

Phishing and Smishing

Phishing or smishing is a real thing and these defrauders scam people out of thousands every year by inadvertently obtaining your personal information including your confidential bank details. If you are even a little bit suspicious of a text that either asks for or seems to know your personal details, do not answer, delete it, and if possible block the number, especially if they try and contact you more than once.

A New 'Acquaintance'

Some scammers will even go so far as to pretend to be a friend of a friend and try to dupe you into believing they are to be trusted. They use names that are very popular or common like Tom or Mary. They try to gain your trust with a friendly personal demeanor.

Other Tricks

Brandon Specktor, also of Readers Digest, pointed out the following:

The Vulnerable

Fraudsters target the vulnerable. They play on your emotions, not intellect. The elderly, who are not generally tech-savvy, those that are struggling with emotional issues, who are lonely, or who have gone through difficult and extreme life changes.

Easy Chatting

Another tactic is they try to get you to converse with them, hoping that after enough time, they can build your trust enough to obtain confidential information from you. If they already have some of your personal details, like your name, spouse's name, and phone number, it is easier for them to engage you in conversation. They may ask you if you remember them from an arbitrary event, such as a large social gathering.

Revealing their Flaws

They may try and gain your trust by revealing their own insecurities, faults, and desires, such as “I was really unsure about contacting you, in case you didn't want to talk to me”. They are trying to meet you on common ground. 

Name Dropping

A scammer may mention a well-known personality, who has "bought" into the amazing opportunity he is trying to sell you.

Setting Time Limits

The setting of a time limit for this amazing deal they have just for you is a common way to try and hook you. The con artist sets a time limit, pushing you to make a decision without allowing you time to research or think too hard.

Starting Small

Once you have given in to a scammer, they may start small. Minor amounts disappear from your bank account that you do not notice, or they ask you for a small favor. This is called the foot-in-the-door technique says Lewis. Once you have given in once the fraudster feels confident in asking for more and more with the promise that they will pay it back, help them to be with you (often used in dating schemes)

Reassurance

Any stranger who uses the words “We are going to be very successful together” or something similar, is definitely suspect. Unless you have proof that the opportunity they are providing is above board, run for the hills.

Not Business Related

If the text does not seem to be money related, this does not mean you should let your guard down. If the person knows your name, they must have found it somewhere. Nearly all authentic messages from an unknown number will start with the person identifying themselves and either telling you where they are contacting you from or who they received your number from.

If not, try to obtain this information from them. If at any time they sound vague or mention a place or person you do not recognize, do not entertain any more communication.

Stalkers

An article in Every Day Health reveals concerning statistics. About 1 in every 12 women will be stalked at some time in her life. Here are a few signs that you are being stalked in a telephonic sense.

Many stalkers, as with other offenders escalate if they can get away with less dangerous behaviors. If you receive repeated messages, from the same number, this could be a sign that someone is interested in you, in an unhealthy way.

Stalkers try anything to interact with you. If it is still in the telephonic stage, where it hopefully stays, the perpetrator may ask questions, praise, insult you or send other messages that goad you into communicating with them. They may leave messages on your social media accounts, try and damage your reputation or alienate you from friends and family.

What to Do

The most important things to do if you think you are being stalked are to not give in to the temptation to interact with the person, make sure the trusted people in your life know about it so they can support you, and contact the authorities. Stalkers are committing a crime, It is an offense under the Domestic and Personal Violence Act or similar in most countries. 

Final Words

The good news is that there various law enforcement departments deal with all these forms of telephone and other harassment. Many would-be perpetrators give up once they know they have been identified.

Whether they are stalking or scamming, most messaging apps are prepared for these events and have blocking and reporting functions. The most important thing is to make sure others are aware whether officially or unofficially. The saying 'strength in numbers applies here.

Even if a message is not from a scammer or stalker, there are people out there who do not care about another's privacy. They will attempt to sell you or pique your interest in a business venture and seem to not take no for an answer.

A polite person who does not want to seem brash or rude may still become a victim of an overly pushy person. If you find it difficult to speak out against this kind of bullying, ask a spouse, friend, or family member who can do it for you. No person has a right to push their products, views, or opinions on another person.