Nefarious fraudsters know that text messaging is used by most reputable companies as a way to verify one’s identity and ensure that purchases and transactions are legitimate, so they have started using text messaging as a ploy to steal people’s identity and information. For example, a scammer may send a text message saying “Suspicious Activity Suspected on Your Bank Account. Please call to verify” or even give an alert of a bogus transaction such as “$156 Withdrawn From Your Account. Ignore If Valid. Contact Us If Suspicious”.

The phone number provided for you to call is completely fake, and when you do call, the scammers ask for you verify your identity by providing your most sensitive account and personal information.

This type of scam is known as smishing, a portmanteau of SMS (Short Message System aka texting) and phishing (emails designed to steal information). With so many people today using smart phones in all aspects of life, this cyber attack can appear convincingly legitimate.

  • What Can I Do To Protect Myself? Be extremely cautious whenever you receive this type of alarming text message.
  • Recognize that SMS phone numbers can be easily spoofed.
  • Don’t click on URLs within links within a text message.
  • Don’t call phone numbers provided within a text message.
  • The alert may be a valid attempt to let you know about suspicious activity, but the best defense is NOT to use any link or phone number provided until you have double-checked that it is credible. Instead, use the phone number you already have for that financial institution or company to contact them and verify if the alert message is valid. You can also open a separate Internet browser to navigate to the website you regularly use for that company.