Have you been a victim of 'smishing?' | Crime
Released by the Better Business Bureau of Central East Texas:
If you received a text message on your smart phone about how you have won a gift card worth hundreds of dollars, be careful! Otherwise, you may be the latest victim in a fraudulent scheme aimed at stealing your private information.
"Phishing" is a term coined by computer hackers who use email to “fish” the Internet hoping to “hook” you into giving them your logins, passwords and/or credit card information. Smishing is the term used when scammers use this process over Short Messaging Service (SMS) received as text messages via your cell phone. Like traditional “phishing,” “smishing” schemers typically pose as banks, well-known companies, or as lottery/sweepstakes presenters. The latest smishing scams seem to involve gift card giveaways. BBB has received several reports about smishing-related calls and wants to remind consumers of the signs of a smishing scam.
Text messages such as “Congratulations, you’ve won!” and “Enter code 6655 to claim your $1000 gift card” are all red flags that a “smishing” scam is in the midst. The most recent smishing message instructs people to call a toll-free number or visit a website to redeem the free $1000 Best Buy, Wal-Mart or Target gift card. Many of these messages come with embedded links that can ultimately spread viruses to the phone if clicked.
Victims of the scam are often asked to call a toll-free number or reply with a text. Scammers proceed to ask for information, such as debit card or account number and password, to a fake automated system.
“These hackers are looking for you to respond with vital information that can ultimately lead to identity theft”, said Mechele Agbayani Mills, President and CEO of BBB Serving Central East Texas. “Often times, the scammers want you to wire money before receiving your ‘prize,’ one of the biggest red flags of a smishing scam.”
BBB advises consumers to do the following if they suspect they have fallen victim to a smishing scam.
Never reply to the text message. Don’t open or even respond to unsolicited e-mails/texts offering free gift cards. Schemers are preying on victims that text back and ultimately verify that the text has been sent to an active cell phone. If the message has a link in it, never click it. Many schemers use this as way to spread a viral attack on your phone. Once the information is received, the website and the phone numbers are typically disabled.
Protect your personal information. Never ever give out your credit card info, social security number, bank details, or other personally identifiable information in order to pay for fees, taxes, or any shipping costs that you may have potentially ‘won’ or are getting for ‘free’.
Do your research. If you believe you have fallen victim to a smishing scam, contact the BBB directly to confirm the legitimacy of the text message.
Help BBB spread the word. Educate your family and friends on what smishing scams are all about.
If you become a victim, call the credit bureaus, your bank, your credit card companies, and place an alert on your file. Check your credit report at www.annualcreditreport.com to look for fraudulent activity, and report the incident to BBB.
For more information on how to be a savvy consumer, go to www.bbb.org. To report a fraud or scam, call the BBB Hotline: (903) 581-8373.