How the scam works:
If you live in an area that has just been hit by a natural disaster (Hurricane Sandy, fire, earthquake, etc), in the days following you might receive a text message that seems very important.
The message, which is sent to telephone prefixes assigned to your area, states that if the recipient’s home was damaged by water (storm, fire etc), delays can be avoided and you can be placed immediately on a waiting list.
The recipient is required to text back the word “Fire” if they are a victim, or “No” – if they are not. Needless to say, calamity victims reply right away, trying to be amongst the first on the waiting list.
Unfortunately, by replying, you are signing up for premium texting, and you will start to receive tons of random text messages, for $2/piece.
How to avoid:
However much technology advances, victims of floods or fires are never invited to join waiting lists by text messaging. Don’t believe unknown sources just because you need help.
How to report:
Make your family and friends aware of this scam by sharing it on social media using the buttons provided. You can also officially report the scammers to the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) using the link below:
How to protect yourself more:
If you want to be the first to find out the most notorious scams every week, feel free to subscribe to the Scam Detector newsletter here. You’ll receive periodical emails and we promise not to spam. Last but not least, use the Comments section below to expose other scammers.
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