Text messages phishing for information

Phishing emails aren’t the only way you can be solicited for personal information. One way that is gaining popularity is phishing through text messages, sometimes referred to as SMiShing. The term comes from SMS (Short Message Service), used when sending and receiving text messages.

The most common examples of text message phishing occur when fraudsters send text messages posing as a customer’s financial institution or other business that might have access to sensitive personal information. The message often attempt to alarm the customer. It may threaten dire consequence if you don't respond immediately. The message may direct you to a toll-free number or website that looks just like a legitimate institution’s number, but in fact it is not. Once you have called the number or clicked on the email link, they may ask you to “verify” (give them ) your sensitive information such as credit card number account number and expiration date; your Social Security Number, Bank Account Number and pass code, etc.

Examples phishing text messages:

  • Credit Union N.A. Please call us immediately at 1-888-xxx-xxxx regarding a recent restriction placed on your account. Thank you.
  • Alert!! Honolulu City & County Employees has limited your account pending verifications. Contact us NOW at 213-xxx-xxxx.

If you receive a text message that asks for sensitive information, make sure to follow these steps:

  • Do not reply to the message.
  • Do not click on any of the links that may be embedded in the message.
  • Contact your bank, financial institution, or other entity you do business with directly to determine if they sent you a legitimate request.
  • You can also file a complaint at http://www.ftc.gov.