Beware of ‘smishing’ scams | Local News
Do you know about smishing? Despite its funny name, “smishing” is not a new social media platform or gaming app. It is actually a vicious method that crooks use to gain access to your money.
Smishing scams use text messages as a means to steal information from you. The crooks send a text message claiming that your debit card has been compromised or suspended. It asks you to provide your card information so that it can be reactivated. You are prompted to reply to the text message or call the number provided in the message.
Do not do it.
Legitimate financial institutions will never contact you this way, and most importantly they will not ask you to verify your personal financial information via text message. Even if they use “credit union” or name your bank in their post, these posts are coming from a scammer.
So what can or should you do if these scammers contact you?
If you receive a suspicious text message, do not provide any information. Instead, contact your bank and let them know that you have received a “smishing message”. Make sure your accounts are all active and that there have been no suspicious withdrawals of funds or purchases made. When calling your financial institution, be sure to use the number they gave you and not the number you received in the text message.
What do you do if you have replied to the message and provided confidential information?
If the information provided was for a credit card, call the issuer of the card that was compromised. Be sure to use the number on the back of the card. Let them know what happened and that you believe your card information has been stolen. In most cases, they will cancel your card and issue you a new one.
If the information provided was for a debit card, contact your financial institution. Let them know what happened. They will probably freeze your account and issue you a new card.
While it can be difficult to avoid these text messages and calls altogether, there are things you can do to avoid unwanted text messages and phone calls:
• Contact your mobile service provider to find out what steps you can take to limit these types of unwanted calls. Some providers regularly block calls from known numbers for unwanted calls.
• Check your phone settings. You may be able to block all unknown calls or block calls from numbers that you know to be unwanted calls. (Remember, if you do the first one, you might miss a call or two from someone not on your contact list.)
• Some mobile services allow you to forward an unwanted SMS to 7726 or “SPAM”. This is to prevent future unwanted texts from this sender. Make sure to contact your business first to make sure they offer this service.
Text messages and unwanted phone calls are a way of life. But by taking a few proactive steps and protecting your private financial information, you can prevent fraudsters from touching your money.
Amy Douglas is the Senior Services Coordinator for the Citrus County Sheriff’s Office. Call her at 352-726-4488.