The Lee County Sheriff's Office is warning owners of cellular phones to be aware of a "smishing" scam that's been circulating the area over the last several days.
Multiple callers to the Sheriff's Office Fraud Line report they've received a text message stating their VISA debit card has "been frozen," followed by instructions to call the number included in the text to reactivate the card.
This scam uses the victim's SMS (short message service) cell phone technology to deliver a "bait" message in hopes the victim will divulge personal information that can be used to steal one's identity, credit and cash.
A call placed to one of the phone numbers by a member of the Sheriff's Office Crime Prevention Unit immediately connected to a recording that stated we had reached the Security Department of Visa.
The recording asked for the 16 digit card number, expiration date, three digit security code, the last four of the caller's social security number and the personal pin number.
After all prompts were completed, the recording assured our member that his Visa debit card was now fully protected and operable, despite the fact the numbers entered into the system were bogus.
To many times however, an unsuspecting victim will enter legitimate personal information that ultimately provides the scammer with enough information to make charges to the victim's credit cards, bank accounts or even create duplicate cards.
Protect yourself from becoming a victim of "smishing" by following these simple steps:
- Beware of any text message requesting personal and/or financial information. Most reputable organizations do not send text messages asking customers to provide this information particularly when it is unsolicited.
- If you receive a text message that asks you to call a number you don't recognize, don't.
- To confirm whether or not your credit card has been compromised, call the company directly by using the number listed on the back of your credit card.
- Contact your phone carrier to find out how you can report spam received on your cell phone.