Don't Get "Smished"

Nov 17, 2011 | Tips


If you receive a text message stating your accounts have been frozen... it's not from us!

The Better Business Bureau has announced a new scam targeting cell phone users by sending text messages to bait you into divulging personal information. One form of "smishing," similar to "phishing," tricks you into believing your credit cards and banking accounts have been compromised.

The text message appears to come from your financial institution (FI) and directs you to call a number that takes you to a recorded message – sounding as if it’s from the FI’s security department. You’re then given another number to call, along with a confirmation number. The second number is answered by an "operator" who asks for the confirmation number. Once provided, they'll ask you to verify your social security number, birth date, address and the security code on your credit card to unfreeze your accounts.

"Smishing" through text messages or "vishing" through voicemail are the newest ways identity thieves are getting their hands on your valuable personal information. Other forms of these scams promise a free laptop, mortgage assistance or lottery winnings. They might even offer you a free security app that promptly downloads identity-stealing software to your phone.

Regardless of the tactic, having a strong offense is your best defense. The BBB offers tips on protecting your information:


Do not reply

Replying to the spam text only verifies that your number is active, meaning more messages can be sent.


Check with your bank directly

Separate from the text, look up your bank's phone number and contact them directly to confirm the status of your accounts.


Avoid unknown links

Do not click on any link sent by any unknown party.


Block suspicious numbers

If you have received texts from an unknown number, contact your phone provider to block the number the texts are originating from.


Do not store personal information on your phone

Avoid storing credit card and account login information in emails or notes on your phone.

At SCE FCU, we want to keep you safe and secure. The Financial Safety section on our website provides practical tips to help you guard against fraud... and what to do if you happen to fall victim.