Phony text messaging, called smishing, which  purport to be from a legitimate source such as your bank is a scam about which I have been warning you for years, but appears to be a scam that is dramatically increasing.  Recently, a Scamicide reader informed me she had received a text message that appeared to come from Walmart informing her that she was entitled to $1,820 from the Walmart pandemic relief fund.  This scam is being perpetrated by other scammers using differing amounts, but the scam is still the same.  The text message comes with a link you are instructed to click on in order to process your payment.  In some instances, merely clicking on the link will download dangerous malware such as ransomware on to your device.  In other instances, if you provide the requested information at the legitimate appearing, but definitely phony website the link takes you to, you will end up becoming a victim of identity theft.

Phony text messages like this can be particularly problematic if you have signed up to receive text message alerts from your bank. Whenever you receive a text message you can never be sure who is really sending it to you, so you should never call a telephone number indicated in the text message, provide information or click on links in such text messages which may either download ransomware malware on to your phone or keystroke logging malware that can lead to your becoming a victim of identity theft.  The best course of action when you receive such a text message, if you have a concern that it may be legitimate, is to merely independently contact your bank to determine whether or not the text message was a scam, but be careful that you do not misdial the telephone number of your bank as some scammers purchase phone numbers similar to those of legitimate banks and credit card companies hoping that they will receive calls from unwary consumers who may have merely misdialed the telephone number of their bank or credit card company.

As for the Walmart pandemic relief fund, there is no such fund and Walmart is not giving away money to people through any such fund.

TIPS

Regardless of how official such a text message may appear, you should never provide personal information to anyone in response to a telephone call, email or text message because in none of those situations can you be sure that the person contacting you is legitimate.  If you do receive a communication from a bank, government agency or any other person or entity that you think might have a legitimate need for personal information from you, you should call the real entity at a telephone number that you know is legitimate in order to ascertain the truth.  Banks do not call, text or email their customers asking for personal information.  You should always be skeptical of anyone asking for such information.  Of course, if you receive a text message that appears to come from a bank at which you do not have an account, you can be confident it is a scam. If the text message provides for you to respond to stop future texts, don’t do it. Sending such a message to a scammer merely alerts them to the fact that yours is an active phone number.

For those of you receiving the Scam of the day through an email, I just want to remind you that if you want to see the ever increasing list of Coronavirus scams go to the first page of the http://www.scamicide.com website and click on the tab at the top of the page that indicates “Coronavirus Scams.”  Scamicide has been cited by the New York Times as one of three top sources for information about Coronavirus related scams.

If you are not a subscriber to Scamicide.com and would like to receive daily emails with the Scam of the day, all you need to do is to go to the bottom of the initial page of http://www.scamicide.com and insert your email address where it indicates “Sign up for this blog.”