You might have been a victim of smishing and not even know. It’s the newest tool used by scammers to get personal information from your cell phone.
Attorney General Chris Koster is warning Missourians about identity theft via text messaging. Scammers are offering fake prizes via text message. When you open the link, it invades your cell phone with malware that then hijacks your personal information.
Koster says consumer alerts are warning cell phone users to never click on a link sent by an unknown source. He says parents should also educate their children who might have cell phones but might not know better than to click through the link. As shown on this reporter’s phone (right), the number is not a known contact, and the suspect text rolled in at 1:27 a.m.
He’s asking anyone targeted to contact his office’s consumer hotline at 1-800-392-8222 (Outside Missouri call: 573-751-3321). For more information about filing a complaint visit http://ago.mo.gov/consumercomplaint.htm.
“My office is seeing a lot of illegitimate text messages promising free gift cards,” Koster says. “We are warning Missourians not to fall for these scams and not to open the link in the text message. You should never open a link in a text or email unless you know the sender very well and trust that he or she would only send you safe links.”
Koster said if consumers are ever in doubt as to whether to open a link, they should just delete it.
An additional measure of protection can be added by putting a security freeze on your credit report, Koster says. Missouri law allows Missouri residents to notify credit reporting agencies not to give any business or person your credit information unless you so authorize. If you have a freeze on your account, thieves who steal your information will not be able to open credit accounts in your name. There is a small fee to set up the security freeze, limited by law to $5. If you have already been a victim of identity theft, there is no fee, Koster’s office reports.
To place a freeze on your report, contact each credit agency at:
Trans Union: www.transunion.com/personal-credit/credit-disputes/credit-freezes.page