Many of you may be unfamiliar with the term “smishing” which is described in detail in my book “Identity Theft Alert ,” however, you are probably familiar with the term “phishing” which describes the scam by which identity thieves will trick you in an email that appears to come from a person, company or governmental agency to go by way of clicking on a link to a phony website that appears to be that of a legitimate company or governmental agency.  There you are either tricked into providing personal information that becomes used to make you a victim of identity theft or by merely clicking on the misleading link, you unwittingly download a keystroke logging malware program that reads and steals all of the personal information from your computer and proceeds to make you a victim of identity theft.  Smishing is the latest development in this scam.  Rather than coming to you by way of an email,  a smishing attack delivers the scam to you through a text message, which is technically a “short message service” (SMS) hence smishing.  Often the phony text message appears to be from your bank, telling you for whatever reason, you need to provide personal information.  You may be told that you need to provide the information due to a security breach at the bank or for any other reason that may appear legitimate.  However, it never is.  Instead you will either be pumped for personal information or unknowingly download the keystroke logging malware.

However, recently Scamicide readers have been reporting an uptick of smishing text messages such as copied below which purport to tell you of your eligibility for government offered Coronavirus related payments and grants.  These scams are particularly risky because we are all familiar with the actual stimulus payments twice sent to eligible Americans.  However, those stimulus programs are done and the programs referred to in the text messages copied below are phony and do not exist.

A good rule to remember to protect yourself from these smishing scams is that no federal agency will initiate communication with you about anything through a text message and the legitimate stimulus programs did not use either email or text messages to alert people to the programs.

Here are copies of a couple of the text messages presently being circulated.  I have removed the actual phone number from the first text message and the link from the second.

“Hello, Did you get The Federal Government Covid -19 Pandemic Financial relief package for qualified Citizens ? I Got $30,000 delivered To Me Without Paying A Cent and I Don’t Have To Pay It Back because it’s ABSOLUTELY FREE.
All You Have to Do Is to Contact The Federal Agent Bowyer on 602-899-XXXX through text  message and You Will be Asked For Some Little Verifications to be able to process your information and get your Claim. NO FEE IS ATTACHED!”
“Congrats, You’re Eligible for COVID-19 Stimulus payment from the Federal Government. Claim your benefit today! Click the link to complete the form https:xxxxxxxxxx When you’ve submitted your details, Bob Moore from the Employment Department will contact you for more details on how you will receive your money ASAP. Thanks
Rita L. Saenz
Director Employment Development”


Never respond directly to these text messages.  Don’t text “stop” or “no” as sometimes suggested.  Doing so only alerts the identity thieves that they have a real  and active cellphone number. Instead forward the text to 7726, which spells SPAM on your keyboard.

You can never be sure when you receive a text message asking for information if the sender is who he or she says he or she is and even if the message originates from a legitimate cellphone, you can’t be sure that the legitimate cellphone was not hacked into and the message you receive is from an identity thief.  If you ever have the slightest thought that the text message may be a legitimate message from your bank or any other entity with which you do business, you should contact the bank or other entity directly at a number that you know is correct to inquire about the text message.  In this case, there is no need to confirm that these phony smishing text messages are indeed scams because, as I indicated above, they refer to non-existent federal programs.

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 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.

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