Receiving Spam Texts from Your Own Number? You Are Not Alone [Update]

BY Anu Joy

Published 29 Mar 2022


It’s fairly common to receive spam texts asking you to click on links to perhaps receive a gift. A normal reaction to this would be to ignore the message or delete it. But what would you do if the text originated from your own phone number? Some Verizon and Visible (Verizon’s mobile virtual network operator) customers were the unfortunate recipients of a bizarre spam message offering “a little gift” for apparently paying a bill. Tapping on the sender’s details leads them to their own contact card.

Many Verizon users took to Reddit and Twitter to warn others of the scam. One Twitter user notes that it contains several phrases such as “free msg,” “bill is paid,” and “gift” — all common language used by ill-intentioned actors. Verizon’s spam protection systems should have flagged such spam because the combination of words used was typical. However, the messages sailed through this safety net. Apple’s “filter unknown messages” feature baked into iMessage also seems to have failed to block these SMS.

The Verge reports that the link redirects to a website called Channel One Russia, a state TV network. Others claim that clicking the link opens up Russian websites.

How to Safeguard Yourself from SMS Phishing

This scam is called SMS phishing, or “smishing,” which tries to steal your personal information via text message. However, getting a spam message from your own number could be quite disturbing. If you receive such a text, do not click the link. The safest course of action would be to either ignore it or forward it to SPAM (7726). Verizon has acknowledged the issue and has asked recipients of such spam messages to block the number. But blocking and reporting one’s own number also raises eyebrows. You can also file a complaint with the FCC, under a section of complaints called “Your Number Is Being Spoofed.”

Update: Verizon Blames ‘Bad Actors’

Verizon says it is aware of the issue and actively investigating it with assistance from US law enforcement. A spokesperson for the company Rich Young told The Verge via email:

“Verizon is aware that bad actors are sending spam text messages to some customers which appear to come from the customers’ own numbers. Our team is actively working to block these messages, and we have engaged with US law enforcement to identify and stop the source of this fraudulent activity. Verizon continues to work on behalf of the customer to prevent spam texts and related activity.

We believe this activity is being generated from external bad actors with no direct tie to our company”

Young clarified that Verizon’s network has not been compromised and that there is  no evidence this “fraudulent activity is originating in Russia.”

Have you received a spam message linked to your own phone number? Let us know in the comments.

[Via The Verge]