Access to communication has grown exponentially over the past 30 years. Today, we send nearly 19 billion text messages worldwide daily. With that kind of increase in texting, scammers are looking for new ways to confuse people so that they can take advantage.
Another significant change is the communication barriers between the levels of our society, largely due to text messaging. Previous generations of Americans wanted more privacy and were willing to forgo the ease of communication that would today become the norm. Today, it’s common for employees and bosses to blur the lines of official workplace communication and text freely.
Scammers have also noticed the massive change in the employee and boss relationship and have spotted an opportunity to take advantage. Stephanie Garland of the Better Business Bureau says the boss texting scam works this way.
“So usually the scammer is going to stock the boss, and is going to stock the company, and the scammer is going to be able to identify a new hire. Or if there is a business that doesn’t have a really strong higher archery in place, or communication may be a little fuzzy, where job descriptions aren’t super clear. Or if they’ve just hired someone out of college who has never had a full-time job before.”
Sound familiar? The scam plays out like this. A new hire will receive a text message from someone who identifies as their boss. Although due to the pandemic or other circumstances, they’ve never met their boss in person or the individuals cames that they have two cell phone numbers, one for personal and one for business use.
Stephanie says that companies often don’t spend enough time training their employees, which leads them to be a scam target.
“The lack of training with employees opens up the door to business email compromise scams and other business scams like this one.”
Once the boss and the employees identify, the boss will request that the new hire make a purchase for an upcoming project with their own money with a promise that they will pay them back. Once you complete that task, the boss then asks for some of your personal information so that they can return your money.
Another red flag for any scam is that if the boss requests gift card purchases and you then make the purchase, they are asking for with those cards.
The scammers use these techniques because they are effective, making it more difficult for you to get any money back once you realize that you’ve been dupped.
“It can be really hard to get the money back. It’s almost impossible, especially if you’re sending them gift cards. They are nearly untraceable.”
If you’ve received one of these scams texts, the Better Business Bureau warns you to follow these best practices. Never trust messages from unsolicited phone numbers. Also, be wary of odd or unusual requests, and if you have a second thought, ask a friend or parent about whether the text appears suspicious.
If you don’t think that’s the boss’s actual number, reach out to someone else with the company and alert them. Finally, if you receive what appears to be a text message from a scam, don’t reply or click a link that could be included in the message. Block the phone number and reach out to someone else from the company and try to meet your boss in person if you have not already.