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State Warns Cell Phone Users About Text Message Scam

Con artists are trying to trick cell phone users into sharing personal information by sending text messages that look like legitimate bank alerts, according to the state Department of Consumer Protection.
Con artists are trying to trick cell phone users into sharing personal information by sending text messages that look like legitimate bank alerts, according to the state Department of Consumer Protection. Photo Credit: Wikimedia

Just when law enforcement thinks it’s got them beat, online thieves find another way to fleece the public, says the state Department of Consumer Protection.

Con artists are now trying to trick cell phone users into sharing personal information by sending text messages that look like bank alerts.

The scammers troll for victims by SMiShing, short for Short Message System phishing. (Phishing is defined as the act of defrauding an online account holder of financial information by posing as a real company.)

Consumer experts say scammers send text messages that appear to be from a bank. other financial institutions, utility companies, or cell phone service providers.

The message prompts the user to update his or her profile and provides a link to a website.

If the victim takes the bait and clicks on the URL, he or she will be taken to a form that looks like part of the bank’s website.

The page will prompt the person to confirm his or her identity by entering the name, user identification, password, or bank account number.

But wait, it gets even more Machiavellian.

Some scam texts will instruct the victim to text “stop” or “no” to prevent future texts. Once that’s done, the fraudsters can confirm they have a real, active phone number.

Consumer experts offer these tips:

  • Do not respond to any unsolicited texts from your bank or service provider requesting confirmation of personal information. Contact your bank directly to confirm if there is a problem with your account.
  • Ignore spam texts asking you to text “STOP” or “NO” to prevent future texts.
  • URLs that have a real company name in the link doesn’t mean it is a real URL. Anyone can register a subdomain or similar URL.
  • Messages sent by legitimate companies will never ask for personal information.
  • Forward these messages to 7726 (SPAM) to have your service provider block their number.
  • Ask your phone carrier about blocking third-party charges. This feature is free.

The state is urging people to file complaints with their service providers or with the the Federal Trade Commission.

To file a complaint, click here.

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