PhotoYour friends text you. Maybe even your parents text you. But if you get a text from your bank, it pays to be more than a little suspicious.

In Washington State, Attorney General Rob McKenna has seen a pick-up in reports of text messages that appear to be from a bank or financial institution, but are really attempts by scammers to capture financial information and drain credit card and bank accounts.

Such text message scams are called “smishing.”

“If you don’t wish to be smished, ignore text messages that look like they’re coming from your bank or credit card,” McKenna said. “Flip over your credit or ATM card and call the number on the back. If there’s a problem with your account, that’s the best way to find out.”

Complaints

Consumers began contacting the Attorney General’s Consumer Protection Division last week complaining about calls to their cell phones from those posing as Wells Fargo employees. An automated voice suggested that the customer’s account has been breached and directed them to “press one” for assistance. They were then connected to a person who asks for sensitive account information.

Many of the calls came to those who don’t even have Wells Fargo accounts. As the week progressed, the scam morphed to text messages from those posing as representing Bank of America, Chase, Citibank and Capital One.

“Phishing” scams trick consumers into turning over account numbers, PINs, credit card security codes, usernames, passwords and other sensitive information. “Smishing” is a similar scam launched over SMS (Short Message Service) messages – better known as text messages.

Scammers have long phished by phone and email. The text scam is a somewhat new variation. Security experts recommend that consumers never respond to any message requesting account or personal information. Instead, contact the institution using a phone number from a statement or from your bank or credit card company’s official Web site.


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