Text Message Scams

LPSO Detective Warns of Text Message Scams

Detective Richard Smith, with the LaSalle Parish Sheriff’s Office, said the LPSO has recently handled several text messaging scam complaints.

Smishing is an identity theft scheme which sends text messages containing a link to a fraudulent website or a phone number to consumers 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 to ensure the security of their mobile devices, Smith said.

Earlier this month, the Better Business Bureau (BBB) 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.

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 to notify them of the text.

Like phishing, short message service (SMS) text messages, or smishing, make consumers think their financial accounts may be compromised. Therefore, they follow the fake URL or call a fraudulent phone number even if they suspect it is a scam. Identifying the scam is a consumer’s first defense against 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,” Smith stated.