Identity Theft

Smishing: A Serious Identity Theft Scheme

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Smishing is an identity theft scheme that involves sending consumers text messages containing a link to a fraudulent website or a phone number in an attempt to collect personal information. This scheme is becoming increasingly popular and consumers should know how to determine if they are being targeted by these criminals and how ensure that their mobile devices are secure.

Earlier this month, the Better Business Bureau warned consumers of smishing, which has become prevalent in the age of the smartphone. Many mobile phone users keep their personal data, like bank account information, stored on their smartphones, but this information can be accessed by criminals through phishing and other scams. One example of a phishing scam is a criminal sending an alert from a bank asking the cellphone user to follow a link to verify account information, the BBB said, such as “reactivate your ATM card” by entering a PIN.

T-Mobile was also warning its customers of the scheme. Criminals could pose as T-Mobile through a text message, scamming users to enter personal information. However, the cellphone provider said it would “never ask you to ‘confirm’ or ‘verify’ your sensitive personal information in an unsolicited SMS text message,” so users should know immediately that any text message is a scam. Like the BBB, T-Mobile said users should not reply to such text messages, not click on any link in them and contact the business that the criminal is posing to represent.

Take Action, Avoid Falling For the Scam

Consumers should also send these scam text messages to 7726 (SPAM) to cellphone carriers to have the number blocked, the BBB said. If the smishing scam included the name of a bank, contact the bank and notify them of the text.

Like phishing, short message service (SMS) text messages, or “smishing,” makes consumers think their financial accounts may be compromised, and therefore they follow the fake URL or call a fraudulent phone number even if they suspect it is a scam. But identifying the scam is a consumer’s first defense from becoming a victim of the crime.

Consumers should be wary of any message that comes from “5000″ or any other number that is not a cell number, Network World reported. A message that is asking a consumer to respond quickly can be a scam, and consumers should stop and think it over before taking action. “Remember that criminals use this as a tactic to get you to do what they want,” the article stated.

Image: iStockphoto

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