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Smishing - Phishing Scams Go Mobile

Do not get "Smished" by Credit Alerts on Your Phone

By Florence Klein
Florence Klein
Courtesy of Florence Klein

This is week two of National Cyber Security Awareness Month and the focus is on education of citizens, especially the workforce, and on the Connect step of the "Stop. Think. Connect." Campaign.

For our part on the education front, we want to warn you about "Smishing". "Smishing" is the term for a text message trap sent to mobile phones. A "smish" arrives as simple text message to your smart, feature or simple mobile phone and tells you there is a problem with your bank or credit card account. The "smish" will present you with a number to call. Do not call that number! If a user calls the number they will be asked for account numbers and access codes, user names and passwords and even driver license and social security numbers.

"Smishing" seems to be on the rise right now with cases springing up in Washington state this past week. The first reports targeted Wells Fargo accounts. It did not take long before the "smishing" reports included the Bank of America, Chase, Citibank and Capital One. Many other financial institutions may have their names used in the scams in the weeks that follow. One may be yours.

All this should be raising red flags of warning. Heed the warnings no matter how official the message looks, or sounds in the case of a phone call. Here is what you should do if you do get a text or phone call about one of your bank or credit card accounts:

  1. Delete the message (hang up if you get a phone call)
  2. Get out your bank or credit card, look on the back and find the number to call
  3. Call that number (or the one from an account statement)
  4. Ask the customer service representative to tell you about any account issues

This is the number one best way to find out if there are any problems with your account. It also alerts your financial institution of the scam. "Smishing" like phishing is a criminal act that needs to be reported to the Federal Trade Commission at their website or by phone. Here is their link: FTC

If you fear you or a loved one has given out sensitive information about an account, be sure to contact the issuer of the account and to monitor the account statements.


Published October 12, 2011

Florence Klein





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