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Verizon blames ‘bad actors’ for the spam text you got from your own number

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The carrier says it’s working with US law enforcement to find those responsible

Verizon CEO Hans Vestberg
Verizon CEO Hans Vestberg
Photo by Chris Welch / The Verge

Yesterday, I wrote about receiving a spam text that bizarrely looked as though it came from my own phone number. But what initially seemed like a random, spoofed spam message is increasingly starting to look like a focused effort targeting Verizon Wireless, one of the largest telecoms in the United States. Today, the carrier confirmed it’s aware of the situation and is investigating the matter with the help of US law enforcement.

“Verizon is aware that bad actors are sending spam text messages to some customers which appear to come from the customers’ own number,” Verizon spokesperson Rich Young told The Verge by email. “Our team is actively working to block these messages, and we have engaged with US law enforcement to identify and stop the source of this fraudulent activity. Verizon continues to work on behalf of the customer to prevent spam texts and related activity.”

In the hours since we published our original story, many more Verizon customers have reported receiving that same exact text about a free gift with a link at the end. In my case, the link forwarded me to Channel One Russia, a Russian state media network.

At the moment, however, Verizon says “we have no indication that this fraudulent activity is originating in Russia.” The deluge of texts comes as many US companies remain on high alert for potential retaliatory cybersecurity attacks from Russia over the severe US sanctions that resulted from Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

Other major US carriers have not received the same mass wave of spam texts that are spoofed with customers’ own numbers, leading to some speculation of an internal breach at Verizon or a more sophisticated attack than run-of-the-mill spam. But according to Young, Verizon’s network hasn’t been compromised. “We believe this activity is being generated from external bad actors with no direct tie to our company,” he said.

Either way, I’m still seeing reports of people getting these spam texts today, so Verizon seems to be having a difficult time fully putting a stop to the messages. If you receive one, the best thing you can do is immediately delete it.