The Better Business Bureau (BBB) is warning consumers about an ongoing text message scam that’s fooling people into sharing their personal information with thieves.
The scam that uses texts to try to part you and your money
The BBB says con artists are sending people text messages that appear to look like an alert from their bank. It could say that your account is locked or that you need to update your PIN number. The URL in the message may even include the name of your bank.
According to the BBB, once you click on the link, it takes you to a form that appears to be on the bank’s website. The page will then ask you to ‘confirm’ your identity by entering your person information.
Do not do it!
Even if it really is your bank sending you a message, don’t risk the possibility that it’s not. Taking the time to log in to your online bank account through a secure network is a lot easier than the trouble you’d be dealing with after thieves get their hands on your personal information.
How to avoid this scam and others like it
Text scams are nothing new and the BBB has been warning consumers about it since at least 2013.
The lesson: Even if a message appears to be from a trusted source, don’t trust it!
Here’s a general rule of thumb for avoiding these types of scams: Do not click on any link in any email or text message that you were not expecting.
If there’s a question and you think there’s a legitimate message or notification intended for you, go directly to the official website of whatever business it is and check for any notifications there.
If your bank needs you to update your profile, you should be able to find that information by logging in to your account separately through the official site — or by calling your bank directly.
Here are some additional tips from the BBB for you to protect yourself from text message scams:
- Just hit delete! Ignore instructions to confirm your phone number or visit a link. Some scam texts instruct you to text ‘STOP’ or ‘NO’ to prevent future texts. But this is a common ploy by scammers to confirm they have a real, active phone number.
- Read your phone bill. Check your phone bill for services you haven’t ordered. Some charges may appear only once, but others might be monthly ‘subscriptions.’
- Know your rights. Real commercial text messages must provide a free, easy way for you to opt out of future communication.
- Watch out for look-alike URLs. Just because a URL has the name of a real company in it, doesn’t mean it’s legitimate. Anyone can register a sub-domain (realcompany.website.com) or similar URL (realcompany1234.com).
- Ask your phone carrier about blocking third-party charges. Mobile phone carriers permit outside businesses to place charges on your phone bill, but many carriers also allow you to block these charges for free.