New “SMISHING” Scam Uses Bank Alerts to Steal Personal Information

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Con artists are trying to trick cell phone users into sharing personal information by sending text messages that look like bank alerts. A method called “SMiShing.” SMS (Short Message Service) is the technology used for text messages on cell phones.

Scammers send a text message that appears to be from a bank or entities masquerading as financial institutions, utility companies or cell phone service providers. It prompts the user to update his or her profile and provides a link to a website. The link may have the bank’s name as part of the domain. If a cell phone user clicks on the URL, they 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 and/or bank account number. Some scam texts instruct you to text “stop” or “no” to prevent future texts. This is a common ploy by scammers to confirm they have a real, active phone number.

To avoid falling victim to this scam:

  • If you receive an unsolicited text from your bank or service provider requesting confirmation of personal information, do not respond or share any 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.
     
  • Legitimate messages sent by legitimate companies will never ask for personal information.
     
  • Commercial text messages must provide a free, easy way for you to opt out of future communication.
     
  • If you are receiving any messages of this nature, forward them to 7726 (SPAM) to have your service provider block their number from your phone.
     
  • Consumers should ask their phone carrier about blocking third-party charges. This feature is completely free to use.
     
  • Even if you receive only one of these spam messages, we strongly recommend filing a complaint to your service provider and the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) at https://www.ftccomplaintassistant.gov/