New Scam on the Block: Scamming via Text Messaging

August 5, 2013 at 8:46 pm (Uncategorized) (, , )

The conversation started innocently enough.  My partner asked if something was wrong with the debit card.  I said, “No, why?”.  The response was that she’d received a text from Regions saying the Visa debit card had been temporarily deactivated, and it gave a number to call for reactivation.  Alarm bells started ringing in my head.  First of all, we don’t have a Regions debit card.  Second, a text message?  Third, it gave a local phone number for assistance.  

Text Scam

This works for a few reasons.  They pick a large bank knowing that a large percentage of the population will have an account.  There is some convincing information there, because they have the first few digits of the card, right?  Nope.  All Visa cards begin with 4, Mastercards begin with 5.  By including a little information that sounds plausible, some folks might automatically think it is legitimate.  They only need a few people to respond to make it worthwhile. Congratulations.  You’ve just given your card information over to someone planning a small shopping spree. A few keystrokes later,  I was reading about one of the newer scams on the block:  SMS phishing, or “smishing”.  Scammers send out a burst of text messages to local numbers with a message that starts something like this:  “(name_of_bank) NOTICE: Your VISA #4355-47xx has been temporarily deactivated. To reactivate, please call (local number)”.  When you call the number, you get a message telling you that you have reached the automated service center. They tell you to leave your card number, expiration date, and 3-digit code on the back (not all include the code part), and your card will be promptly reactivated.  

If you think your debit or credit cards have been compromised in any way, call ONLY the toll-free number on the back of the card.   Do not be embarrassed and hope that nothing will happen if you did slip up and give someone some information about your account.  In many cases, the thieves will rack up charges halfway around the world within half an hour. They do it quickly before folks have time to think about it. By the time it gets reported, the damage is done.  So, report it quickly so your card can be blocked, and a new one can be issued.

Be vigilant folks.  It’s a whole new world. Stay safe out there. 

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