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CONSUMER ALERT: New smishing scam targets text users

(WILX)
Published: Jul. 10, 2018 at 9:44 AM EDT
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A new consumer warning is being issued by the state's Attorney General's office.

The Consumer Protection team is warning residents about a text messaging scam called "smishing."

Smishing is when a scammer sends text messages to consumers appearing to be from a trusted source.

“Dishonest individuals are always trying to find new ways to obtain our personal information,” said Schuette. “My Consumer Protection team continually works to stay current on the latest scams, so they can make sure Michigan residents are aware of these scams and know how to identify the scams and avoid them.”

Smishing scams are like phishing scams that you would receive over email except they arrive as text messages on your cell phone.

The scam hopes that you as the consumer, will respond to the text with your personal information or to click on the links that will then install malware, attacking your phone.

According to the team, Smartphone users are three times more likely to fall for fake text messages than computer users, therefore text message scams are on the rise but not on the up and up.

A common smishing scam would warn about a problem with one of your accounts and might ask you for information to correct it. Or maybe you'll receive an offer from a business that's really too good to be true, or include freebies or trips.

Do not respond to these texts - just delete the message.

The Consumer Protection Team offers these tips on how to spot the scams:

It is important to look out for the following:

• A text message that appears to be your bank and states there is a problem with your account. A phone number is listed for you to call right away;

• A text message from an unknown sender asking for you to call a number, click on link or respond with personal information;

• A text message that reads: “REAL ROLEX 90% OFF, click here.”; and

• A text message that says, “click here,” enter “x,” or reply “stop” to opt out of future messages.

And here are some ways to prevent them:

• Don’t respond to any suspicious numbers. Instead once you report it, delete the text and block the number;

• Don’t share your phone number unless you know the person or organization well;

• Beware of the fine print in user agreements for products or services that may use your phone number, like mobile apps and free ring-tone offers;

• NEVER follow a text’s instructions to push a designated key to opt out of future messages; and

• Report scam texts to the Federal Communications Commission online, by phone 888-225-5322; or by mail: FCC Consumer Complaints, 445 12th Street S.W., Washington D.C. 20554.

If you are a mobile subscriber with AT&T, T-Mobile, Verizon or Bell you can report spam texts to your carrier by copying the text and forwarding it to 7726 free of charge.

If you cannot use 7226, then consumers can report smishing texts to your service provider and the Federal Communications Commission