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Don't get smished

Scammers using text messages

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Don’t get smished! It could cost you a bundle

Just when you think you’ve heard the latest tech-savvy term for digital shenanigans, along comes a new scam and a new term.

First there was “phishing”—the scam e-mails with links that send you to bogus websites that trick you into giving up your banking or other information. Today’s word of the day is “smishing.” Smishing is essentially a mobile device version of phishing that uses text messages (aka short message service, or SMS).

More and more people are conducting business through their smart phones and the scammers have noticed. Better Business Bureau warns consumers to be on the lookout for smishing. You may receive a text message that appears to be a bank alert asking for you to confirm account information. Like phishing e-mails, these are attempts to steal your personal information.

The smishing text message will claim to be from a bank that you may or may not have an account with. It will ask you to verify your account by either following a link or calling a phone number. Smishing scammers have tried various schemes, claiming to represent banks of all sizes, local businesses and multi-national corporations.

Regardless of the details, the intent is always the same. If you call the number or go to the website they give, the scammers will try to get your banking information.

The smishers might ask you to enter an ATM card number and PIN to “reactivate your ATM card” or the link might download malware that will let them access any information on your phone, including bank details and passwords.

If you receive one of these misleading messages, BBB has the following tips:

  • Ignore instructions to text ‘STOP’ or ‘NO’ – This is a common ploy by scammers to confirm they have a real, active phone number.
  • Forward the texts to 7726 (SPAM on most keypads) This will alert your cellphone carrier to block future texts from the number.
  • Verify the web address  If you think your text message is real, be sure the link provided is directing to a web address like “yourbank.com” not “yourbank.otherwebsite.com.”
  • Call the bank or check out their website  See if your bank has been targeted by a scam. They will likely have further information about it. This often includes an email address where you can send a screen shot or details about your scam text to help find and stop the scammers.

Learn what your cellphone carrier has to say about stopping spam. Click here for advice from ATT, Verizon, T-Mobile and Sprint.

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