How to spot a scam text message

Have you received a text message congratulating you on winning a prize? Are you concerned it’s a scam?

Unfortunately, completing just one dodgy online form on a survey or competition site can result in your phone number or email address finding its way onto a list that’s illegally sold to spammers. Soon, you find yourself bombarded with phone calls about PPI and road traffic accidents – and unfortunately, you may also receive scam text messages too.

The problem is with the latest batch of ‘Congratulations!’ text messages, the scammers are using your first name (and sometimes your location!) – with the idea that you’re more likely to think its genuine. These scammers hope to get you to click the links and trick you into giving them even more personal information, and sometimes to get you to subscribe to premium text message services.

Identify a scam text

A scam winning text will usually:

  • Mention your name
  • Contain a link to click
  • Mention a big brand name – Argos, Morrisons, Amazon etc.
  • Have grammar and spelling mistakes

Examples of scam winning text messages

Identify a genuine text

A genuine winning text will usually:

  • NOT address you by name (the opposite of what you would expect in a winning email!)
  • Mention details of the prize or promoter
  • Ask you to reply to the text or email with your address details

Examples of genuine winning text messages

Of these, the final example probably looks the most like a scam text – there’s no mention of the promoter plus there’s a suspicious link to click (it’s not obvious that is short for ‘McVities Sweeter Together’, the promotion name!) However, looking back in my iPhone message history I can see that I did text an entry to that competition, so it is a genuine win.

To confuse matters, occasionally genuine promoters like Tesco make mistakes in their text messages too. They tell you you’ve won, and ask you to email them – but cut short the email address! In that case, you could always ask on a comping forum (or group like Lucky Learners) if anyone has had the same message. A lot of text comps have multiple prizes, so there are likely to be other winners who can advise!

What to do if you suspect a scam message

  • Look back in your message history – did you send any competition keywords to the number?
  • Check the number the message has come from – search for it on Google along with ‘scam’ in case it’s already been reported
  • Don’t click the link
  • Don’t reply (this tells the scammer that the number is active)
  • Share a screenshot in your competition group or forum and ask for advice

If you’re certain it’s a scam, you can forward the message – along with the sender’s number – to 7726 (spelling SPAM on your keypad) to report it.

Scam text messages and emails are disappointing and frustrating, and are one of the reasons new compers give up the hobby straight away! But be assured that most competitions are genuine, and it’s just a small number of scammers out there trying to spoil our fun.

If in doubt, only enter competitions on the websites and social media pages of brands you trust – and never tick a box that says your details will be passed on to other companies!

There’s lots more helpful information about spam text messages on the MSE website.

You can also read my blog posts with advice on spotting Facebook and email scams:

6 Responses

  1. Deltahalo241 says:

    Just had one like this on my phone, supposedly from Tesco, said I won second prize in their monthly competition. First red flag for me was that I don’t shop at Tesco and haven’t entered any competitions recently


    I had the same one as Julie Feathers. I take it the Tesco text is not genuine.

  3. Julie Feathers says:

    just got one from Tesco supposidly won 4th place asking to fill in 3 questions and offering an Iphone have to pay £2 delivery click

  4. Stephanie Crimes says:

    This is one of my biggest fears, being a fairly new comper. Thankfully I’ve had nothing suspicious so far!

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