Ron posted a story about a possible scam attempt that a family experienced where they received a call claiming their computer was sending out errors over the Internet and offering to fix it for a charge. This made me think of the increase in text messaging scams that have recently been seen. As a customer service/technical support rep for a cell phone company, I see this every day and thought I would give you a few tips on how to avoid falling for these.
The text message scam usually tries to convince you that there is a problem with your bank account and gives you a number to call in order to correct the issue, usually threatening account cancellation or other negative results should you not respond immediately. The message usually looks something like “There is a problem with your (bank name) account, to prevent cancellation please call 888-888-8888 Immediately!” When you call the number provided it is answered as if you are calling the bank and they will request your account number, password and other personal information. This is then used to gain access to your real account and drain it of money.
The main thing to remember is that a bank or other company will never ask for your account number if they initiate the call/text to you, they have this information already, and no company should ever ask for your password unless you call them.
In order to ensure you are speaking to the bank or other company, do not use the number provided in the text message. Only use a contact number that you know is valid and connects to the company. If there is a true problem with your account, you will be confident that you are speaking to a valid company employee about it.
There are other forms of text messaging scams, some claim to be from your cell phone carrier, cable company, or any other service that has billing information that they can possibly obtain. Once these scams are discovered your cell phone carrier will investigate and stop the sender. It seems like common sense not to respond to something like this but not everyone is aware these scams are out there. When you tell someone their money is in jeopardy and especially when a person’s bank is named, it causes panic and they respond without thinking.