Smishing: Don’t Believe Every Text

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November 13, 2009

LITTLE ROCK-"Phishing" is a term used to describe a con-artist's attempt to solicit your sensitive personal information, usually electronically via email. While phishing schemes are not new, con-artists continue to come up with new ways to trick consumers into handing over sensitive information. Now, Arkansans can be subject to phishing schemes via SMS text message. Attorney General Dustin McDaniel issued this consumer alert today to warn consumers about this type of scam, which is often referred to as "smishing."

Most of these schemes consist of an unsolicited text message alerting the consumer that there is a problem with her cell phone account or some financial account, like a credit card. The message might say that a credit card has been deactivated, or it might warn that cell service will be canceled. To correct the supposed problem, consumers are told to call the number listed in the text.

"This scam is relatively new, and it can throw consumers for a loop because you don't expect to get spam text messages," said McDaniel. "If you suspect there is a problem with any account, though, the first step is not to panic and reply."

To avoid falling for this scam, here are some tips to remember:
• Contact your cell phone provider or the account representative in question directly using the customer service number on your account statement or the number given on the provider's Web site to verify that the account problem is legitimate;
• Do not respond to unsolicited texts, as legitimate businesses and companies will usually not contact their customers that way unless the customer has agreed to receive such text messages; and
• Contact the Public Protection Department of the Attorney General's Office with questions or concerns at 501-682-2341 or 1-800-482-8982 or by filing a complaint online at www.ArkansasAG.gov.