If you own a cell phone,chances are very good that you have received spam text messages, know assmishing. Smishing is a twist on an old scam that capitalizes on the explosivegrowth in smartphones. A smishing scam is just like a phishing scam sent to consumersvia SMS text to their phone, instead of via email to a computer.
Walmart and Best Buy have been recent targets of bogus gift card smishingoffers and one text message claimed a $1,000 prize. Would you take the bait?
The Better Business Bureau is warning consumers about this scam and otherreports of text spam who use trusted company names in the hopes that you willfall for their phony offers like cash prizes, free laptops, information aboutmortgage assistance, loan offers, and a variety of other services and products.“These messages are not only annoying, consumers need to know they’re not goingto stop any time soon,” said Warren Clark, Better Business Bureau President.“Knowing what to do when you receive one is important.”
Accordingto the Federal Trade Commission scammers often sell consumer contactinformation who responded to the texts – even those who respond ‘STOP’ tothe messages – and turn the cell numbers into leads to third parties. “Thefirst rule of thumb is to delete unknown messages and control yourcommunication to any business. When you send the message, you have assurancethat you can trust the reply,” added Clark. “Unwantedtext messages that hook people into their scheme can threaten your personalidentity and lead to unwanted expenses.”
If you have a Cell phone or Smartphone device, the BBB encourages you tofollow our anti-smishing advice:
BBB also recommends taking steps tomonitor your bank statements and credit cards weekly for unauthorized charges.If you find a suspicious charge, beyond contacting that business, you should alsocheck your family’s credit reports with all three credit bureaus annually forany unauthorized credit accounts that have been opened using your socialsecurity numbers. You can get a free credit report at www.annualcreditreport.com.
- Discuss what smishing scams are with all members of your family who have cell phones, from the youngest to the oldest.
- Do not click on links in text messages or emails offering prizes or ‘free’ products or trial offers.
- Delete any texts or emails that claim you have won a prize or are eligible for a free product.
- Do not respond to smishing text messages – by doing so you are confirming your cell number is active making it ripe for future smishing attempts.
- Report the text immediately if it appears to be from your bank, the IRS, or any entity asking you for confidential account numbers or other personal information. When you report the activity you help the business alert others like Walmart and Best Buy have.
- Do not provide personal information to claim ‘prizes’ or to sign up for free trials.
- Never give your credit card number, social security number or bank account information to pay for fees, taxes, or shipping costs for anything that you may have ‘won’ or are getting for ‘free’.
- Only give your cell phone number to people that you trust. Avoid providing it online as a condition to take a survey, play a game, etc. Your number could be sold to marketing agencies without your prior knowledge.