Who texted me from this phone number? Unraveling the mystery

December 30th · 10 min read

Rotem Tal - Senior Cybersecurity Expert |Writer & Editor|
Rotem Tal - Senior Cybersecurity Expert |Writer & Editor|

Tackling the anonymous text message jungle

Who’s this? or, as Gen Zs would phrase it, "Who dis?" - A question that sends a slight shiver down our spines in this modern era of texting, right? Texting hasn't just revolutionized our chats, it's cracked open a door to a somewhat creepy, uncharted territory: receiving texts from the abyss of unknown numbers. You know the drill—your phone buzzes with a message from a number not in your contacts, casting a shadow of mystery over your day. This isn't just an awkward dance of deciding whether to confess to the sender that their number isn't saved on your phone. Oh no, it's potentially the opening scene of a horror flick where you're unknowingly the main character.

Scammers are out there, hiding and waiting to trick you. Every text from someone you don't know might be a scam. Answering these unknown senders can be risky, turning what looks like a simple message into a big problem. A person who seems friendly at first might actually be trying to scam you, causing problems that last long after you've replied. So, when you get a text from an unknown number, be careful. It's not just a puzzle to solve; it could be someone trying to scam you.

Last year, Americans lost over $326 million due to scam texts.

In this article, we're going to take a deep dive into the world of anonymous text risks. We'll show you how to identify unknown text senders, figure out who's behind them, and understand the risks they might bring. We’ll also show you some neat tricks and tools to dodge these sneaky messages. And for our grand finale, we’ll give you the lowdown on how Guardio’s text protection keeps you safe from these mystery texts. So, channel your inner cyber detective, and let's investigate!

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Text from an unknown number.

Anonymous text risks: What you need to know

Received a text from an unknown number and wondered what the big deal is? Well, an anonymous text could be an innocent mistake, but it could also be a targeted attempt to compromise your personal information. Unknown texts can be more than just a nuisance, they can be an entry point for scams, phishing attempts, and malware distribution.

The text might deviously request personal information and persuade you to click on a seemingly harmless link. But watch out, that’s where the trouble starts. Clicking that link can send you on a wild and dangerous rollercoaster ride where your accounts, personal information, finances, and even identity are put at risk.

Here are some potential consequences of responding to a scam text:

  • Financial loss: Scammers might use social engineeringtricks to lure you into transferring money or revealing banking details.

  • Malware infection: If the text has a link in it, pressing it could install harmful software on your device.

  • Phishing scams: Scammers may trick you into revealing sensitive login credentials or financial, and personal information.

  • Compromised security: Your device's security could be breached, leading to further attacks.

  • Spam increase: Your number could be circulated among other cybercriminals or sold on the dark web for continuous spam and scamming attempts.

  • Data breach: Your stored data, including contacts, could be accessed and exploited.

  • Device hijacking: Scammers might gain control over your device, impacting its functionality.

  • Identity theft: Scammers could steal your personal information to impersonate you.

  • Legal trouble: Inadvertently, you could get entangled in fraudulent activities.

  • Stress and anxiety: Dealing with the aftermath of a scam can be mentally taxing.

Clicking into danger: The hidden scams in your text inbox

What if you receive texts where you can't quite hit 'reply'? It's one thing to try and identify unknown text senders, but what about when you get a message that seems to be from your bank or a government agency? Suppose it claims there's an issue with your account and urges you to click a link to fix it. These messages are usually automated, meaning you can't really reply to them, and they often use a tone of urgency to prompt immediate action.

Although there's a possibility these messages are genuine, the likelihood is quite slim. More often than not, such texts are cleverly disguised scams, designed to trick you into revealing personal information or clicking on harmful links. Let's say you click that link. Suddenly, you're on a website that appears legitimate, asking for your details. But here's the catch: it's fake. Before you know it, your info is stolen, your account hijacked, or worse, your finances drained.

Woman looking at her phone

That’s exactly what happened to Emily, a busy college student who was studying late one evening when her phone buzzed. It was a text message, appearing to come from her bank, alerting her of suspicious activity on her account. The message was urgent: "Unusual transaction detected. Click the link to verify, or your account will be temporarily suspended."

Stressed about her hard-earned savings, Emily was hesitant but eventually clicked the link. It led to a website identical to her bank's login page. She entered her username and password without a second thought. Moments later, she received an official email from her bank about a password change she never initiated.

She tried to log in to her bank account, but her password no longer worked. Then it dawned on her - the text was a scam. In a panic, she called her bank, only to learn that a large sum of money had been transferred out just minutes ago. The text, the website, the urgency - it was all a ruse, a cleverly designed trap she had walked right into.

Sadly, these types of SMS scams are slick, tricky, and getting tougher to spot every day. The thing is that it's not just about catching these mysterious texters. It's about fully defending yourself from these scams in the first place. That's where Guardio's Mobile Protection steps in like an invisible hero. Guardio is like having a savvy friend who whispers, "Hey, don't click that!" every time a shady link comes your way. Even if you do end up clicking, Guardio's like, "Nope, not today," and blocks that scandalous website. It's all about keeping you safe, whether you're browsing, clicking links, or just chilling on the web.

Here's a quick rundown of what Guardio has to offer:

  • Blocks scam texts: Guardio text protection is like a filter that keeps the bad stuff out.

  • Alerts on dodgy links and sketchy websites: Think of it as a heads-up when something fishy pops up, like sneaky malware and dangerous phishing websites.

  • Online privacy and security: Guardio's got your back, no matter where you are online.

  • Email armor: Like a digital guard dog for your inbox against phishing and spam.

  • Browser bodyguard: Shields your web surfing from sneaky malware and dangerous websites.

  • Family fortress: Protects the whole crew from digital threats, keeping everyone's digital life secure. (Up to 5 members on one account)

  • 7-Day free trial: Take Guardio for a spin – zero cost, zero catch, all protection.

Every text could be a financial fiasco waiting to happen

Rest easy with Guardio - Filter out dangerous texts, and block malicious links!

Identifying unknown text senders: Techniques and tools

Emily's story shows how unsettling it is to receive a text from an unknown number. So how do you identify unknown text senders? The first step in dealing with this type of scenario is not responding or clicking on any links attached. But if you’re super curious as to who the text is coming from, then here are some effective techniques and tools, including specific apps, for identifying unknown text senders:

  • Do a reverse look-up on Google: Sometimes, a simple Google search is all you need. Google searching for an unknown number may provide useful insights.

  • Search your email: Occasionally, phone numbers are linked to email communications or contacts, so search your inbox. The number might pop up as one of your contacts.

  • Explore social media: Similar to checking your inbox, delve into social media platforms, as these numbers might be linked to user profiles.

  • Just ask: Often, a straightforward approach like sending a polite text asking who the sender is can be the quickest solution.

Remember, your bank will never ask for personal data or confirmation through SMS. Any text claiming to be from your bank and requesting sensitive information is a red flag for a scam. Also, receiving an unexpected text from a service like USPS, especially if it's the first one, should raise suspicions. Genuine ongoing relationships with service providers usually involve multiple communications, not just a single, isolated message.

Tools and apps that can help protect against unknown texts

Truecaller: Utilize this app to identify unknown callers and text senders through its extensive database.

Hiya: This app provides mobile security measures like caller ID and spam-blocking features to help identify unknown numbers.

Whoscall: Specializes in identifying callers and messages and offers caller ID functionality.

Sync.ME: Syncs with social networks to match phone numbers with profiles.

TrapCall: Useful for uncovering hidden numbers, text message sender identification, and providing details about text senders.

Should I Answer?: A community-driven app offering ratings for unknown numbers based on user experiences.

Methods like reverse phone lookups, checking if the number is linked to your contacts, or utilizing specific apps can be helpful. Yet, these methods have their limitations. Let's face it, nowadays, arming yourself with a cybersecurity solution isn't just an option; it's an absolute necessity for ensuring your safety and privacy. Without it, you're essentially navigating the digital world without a safety net.

Is that text legit?

Why risk it? Protect yourself from scam texts with Guardio!

Shadowy figure sending a text message,

Actionable steps to take when you receive a suspicious text

When you receive a suspicious text, it's crucial to stay calm and act smart. The first step in unknown text message security is - Try not to open it. If you do open it and realize that you're not sure about where the text is from, then do NOT reply and do NOT click on any links.

Here’s what you should do:

  • Don’t respond or click links: The most important rule is to avoid interacting with the message. Don’t reply, and definitely don’t click on any links.

  • Verify independently: If the text appears to be from a known entity, verify the information through official channels or the apps and tools we mentioned earlier - not the contact details provided in the message. Just because the text says it’s from your bank or from USPS doesn’t make it true.

  • Report the message: Copy the message and forward it to 7726 (SPAM). This helps your wireless provider spot and block similar messages in the future. Read more.

  • Use a security app: Install a security app like Guardio to scan and block potential threats from suspicious texts.

  • Update your security settings: Ensure your phone’s security settings are updated, including anti-malware and firewall protections.

Remember, your bank will never ask for personal data or confirmation through SMS. Any text claiming to be from your bank and requesting sensitive information is a red flag for a scam.

Frequency of Contact: Receiving a solitary text from a service like USPS, especially if it's the first one, should raise suspicions. Genuine ongoing relationships with service providers usually involve multiple communications, not just a single, isolated message.

The bottom line

Receiving a text from an unknown contact might seem harmless, but the real risk emerges when you interact with it, whether by clicking, replying, or calling. In cases where you might doubt a message's authenticity, it's often safest to ignore it. Yet, if you do find yourself engaging, having a robust line of defense like Guardio is crucial.

Guardio is more than just cybersecurity solutions for texts. Think of Guardio as a filter that blocks scam texts, phishing emails, malicious downloads, and dangerous websites, basically keeping all the bad stuff out. It alerts you to dodgy links, serving as a heads-up whenever something fishy shows up in your digital world. Guardio even extends its protective reach to your family, securing up to five members on one account. And to top it off, Guardio offers a 7-day free trial, no strings attached, allowing you to experience its full protection without any cost.

With Guardio, you're not just installing a security app; you're empowering yourself and your loved ones with a comprehensive suite of tools for a safer, more secure online experience. Stay safe, secure, and most importantly, stay one step ahead of scam texts and cyber threats with Guardio by your side.

Dealing with scam texts is now a thing of the past.

Welcome Guardio into your digital life – and say goodbye to those sketchy texts!

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