Scammers frequently say they're with the IRS or local police agencies, but they took a new fake identity as tensions rose with Iran this month: the Selective Service Administration.
Hundreds of young people across America got the bogus text message sent to their phones telling them they'd been drafted for military service, the Army said in a news release.
Army Recruiting Command at Fort Knox, Ky., found itself reassuring panicky teens that the government wasn't about to give them a free haircut.
"The draft has not been in effect since 1973," the Army said in a news release. "The military has been an all-volunteer force since that time."
The Vietnam flashback comes as America works to reimagine the draft. The Commission on Military, National and Public Service has held its final hearings after a nationwide tour and could issue findings that shake up the system that's been in place since Vietnam. Now, all men are required to register for the draft at 18. Soon, women could be asked to do the same.
"Many do not realize the U.S. has a requirement for men to serve the nation if drafted," the commission said in an interim report issued last year. "Further, some Americans are surprised that women are currently neither required nor permitted to register for selective service."
Getting America to reimplement the draft would certainly take something more than rising tensions with Iran.
After the 9/11 attacks, some lawmakers mused about bringing back the draft, but the idea was quickly squashed. Even the military said it was vehemently against the draft. That means the two longest wars in American history have been conducted solely with volunteers.
That doesn't mean that the draft is entirely dead. In place from World War II into the Vietnam years, the draft had some appealing traits that some say America could use again.
Yes, the draft put generations of youth onto battlefields and tens of thousands of American draftees perished in combat.
The war part isn't what modern draft thinkers find alluring. Instead, they see generations who got a start in life that many would have been denied by poverty.
The draft took in men regardless of race and ethnicity, creating a national leveling that accomplished things the civil rights movement could not by letting Americans get to know people from other backgrounds.
The draft also gave an injection of cash to the lowest tiers of the American economy. And draftees by the hundreds of thousands used the GI Bill to get an otherwise unobtainable college education and bought their first houses with VA loans.
The real lesson of Vietnam, some say, is that Americans need to agree on the wars we fight before we send in draftees.
But bringing back anything like the draft is nearly unthinkably remote. Powerful lawmakers don't want to answer for the involuntary enlistments of teenagers.
And the military says the volunteers in its ranks are professional troops, better trained and better disciplined than anything that could come from a draft.
So, if you find your teenager crying over a text-messaged draft notice, tell them there's nothing to fear.
"U.S. Army Recruiting Command has received multiple calls and emails about these fake text messages and wants to ensure Americans understand these texts are false and were not initiated by this command or the U.S. Army," Recruiting Command said in a news release.