In the 1990s and early 2000s, there was the chain letter or forwarded chain email that warned if you didn’t forward the message along, you’d lose your job/family/money. While those spammy schemes of yesteryear were pretty easy to point out, the modern text message spam or phishing scheme is harder to detect. Unfortunately, those text message schemes are also on the rise. According to a recent report, text message phishing scams rose more than 900 percent in the first week of September, making text message phishing the biggest text messaging threat. Over the course of four days, 500 unique attacks were sent out. This report, paired with information that the iPhone had SMS vulnerability not present on other operating systems and that mobile cybercrime threats doubled from 2010 to 2011, shows us that crooks are getting smarter – so consumers will need to as well.

With so many scheme types out there, it could be hard for consumers to tell what is a real messaging alert and what is simply a cyber attacker attempting to gather information. With an increase in businesses using automated messaging through text and email, this can make it even more difficult to realize what messages you should delete and which ones are legitimate. So what are some ways you can spot whether to hit delete on the next text you get? Here are some clues to help you win the spammy SMS game.

Don’t provide personal information

This should be a big warning that you’re probably not dealing with a legitimate messaging alert from a reputable company. Any requests for PINs, passwords, access codes, or personally identifiable information should be a big red flag. Never provide personal information through text message.

Check for grammar                                              

Text message slang may be slowly ruining the English language, but professional messaging services shouldn’t have flagrant misspellings, abbreviations, and other weird jargon. Just like you can usually tell when a blog comment is spammy, a text message that contains symbols, odd abbreviations and slang only acceptable in a teenager’s vocabulary should be a warning you want to delete that message.

Identify the source

Some automated messaging solutions like PhoneTree allow businesses to send text messages using a ten-digit number so it doesn’t look like spam. For example, if you send a reminder message to a patient about an upcoming appointment, the message will come from a ten-digit number and not a random string of numerals. While not all automated messaging providers will offer this feature, this is one way businesses can distinguish themselves from these texting imposters.

When in doubt, make a call

If you are questioning the legitimacy of a text’s validity, especially those tied to your financial information, don’t hesitate to call the financial institution at the number listed on the back of your credit card to verify whether a message was sent your way. Do not rely on the number provided in the message to contact customer service representatives. One of the customer service reps at your bank or credit card company should be able to provide you with the information to determine whether the message was sent on the company’s behalf.