Criminals getting personal with spam, scam texts sent to your phone

PITTSBURGH — Spam and scam text messages are soaring as crooks try to steal your personal information.

Americans received 7.4 billion spam texts in March alone -- a nearly 40% jump from February, NBC News reported.

Officials say the text messages are phishing scams from criminals. In some cases, they’re even personalized.

The tactic that keeps popping up is spear phishing, in which your name, job or even a service you frequently use is mentioned. Some of the texts claim a person’s unemployment benefits are ready.

The best way to protect yourself, officials say, is to never respond and never click on any links. Remember, most companies will reach out via email with a verified company email address or through mail if you owe them money.

“Take a quick gut check. Did you enter any contests? Did anything happen that would have led this text message to you? Is this really passing your sniff test to see if it’s legit?” Todd Hillis, a cybersecurity expert, said. “And 99.9% of the time, it’s not.”

To cut down the number of questionable texts you receive, you can forward them to “SPAM” by highlighting the message, then copying and pasting it into a new text message that you send to 7726. By doing this, your cellphone provider will limit the texts sent to you.