Nebraska Attorney General Mike Hilgers recently warned people about a dramatic increase in bank scams being perpetrated through phony emails and phony text messages purporting to come from your bank. And this warning is certainly not limited to Nebraska. According to the Federal Trade Commision (FTC) these types of scams have increased by 1,000% over the last three years.
Phony text messaging, called smishing, which purport to be from 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, I received a text message that appeared to come from Citizens Bank which read “Account on hold: Reason unverifiable profile. Please update your profile below immediately to avoid blockage.” A link then appeared in the text message that had no obvious connection to Citizens Bank.
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.
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.
Finally, although today’s Scam of the day focuses on phony bank text messages, it is a good idea to sign up to receive text alerts from your bank which can be customized for your own particular needs. In regard to the text message that I received, a close examination of the sender would indicate that it came from “Citizen Bank” rather than “Citizens Bank” which is the name of the legitimate bank (and not one at which I have an account.)
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