Text messages are a great way for businesses to stay in touch with their customers. It’s a convenient way to keep up to date on account activity, appointment reminders and tracking deliveries.

But ambiguous messages with ulterior motives are popping up on phones.

You may have seen them: “A deposit has been made in your account. Click to confirm” or “Package delivery attempted. Get notifications here.” They sound vaguely familiar; maybe you were in fact waiting for a deposit or expecting a delivery, but Better Business Bureau warns you to proceed with caution.

Scammers are sending deceptive text messages to smart devices to trick you into giving up account information. It’s called smishing — a phishing scam delivered to you via text, or SMS.

These scam texts use a variety of messages and techniques, often creating a sense of urgency to act fast. Their goal? To get your personal, financial or account information. These messages often contain links that download malware on your phone or email addresses that prompt you to fall into a social engineering scam or just to elicit a response in order to gain your trust and your money.

In one example, you get phony text messages that look like alerts from a bank where you may or may not have an account. The message appears to be about your password or account status, but if you follow the link, the page asks you to verify your information by entering account data or personal information. And now that important information is in the wrong hands.

If you receive one of these scam messages, take the time to verify before clicking anything. The first step is to ignore instructions to text “Stop” or “No” to prevent future texts. This is a common ploy by scammers to confirm they have a real, active phone number. If you think your text message is real, be sure it’s directing to a web address like yourbank.com, not yourbank.otherwebsite.com. Keep in mind, if you have not previously signed up for text alerts, one out-of-the-blue should raise a red flag.

Of course criminals get creative, so you can count on different smishing tactics to arise. Be suspicious of links sent in texts by people you do know. Your friend’s phone could have been compromised or stolen. A hacker could be spoofing, or pretending, to be someone you know. If someone asks for your personal or financial information or an account log-in or password by text, don’t respond. You should never give this information to anyone over a text message.

For more about scams, go to BBB.org/ScamTips. Read more about phishing scams at BBB.org/PhishingScam. If you’ve been the victim of a scam, help others avoid falling victim by reporting what happened on the BBB Scam Tracker.

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Jeremy Johnson is the Eastern Idaho marketplace manager for the Better Business Bureau Northwest + Pacific.


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