Consumer Protection Division warns of SMS scams involving fake bank fraud alerts

The New York State Division of Consumer Protection (DCP) is warning New Yorkers about an SMS phishing scheme targeting cellphone users in an attempt to steal their information. Fraudsters impersonate financial institutions by claiming a customer’s account is compromised “due to unusual activitybut the message is an attempt to trick the recipient into sharing personal information.

These scams usually work when someone pretends to be a representative of a bank or financial institution to obtain information such as your credit card number, bank account number, or social security number. This is called phishing. The message usually asks users to confirm their account information, make a payment, or claim a prize. The link may also ask users to click on the link inside the text, which directs them to a fake site that looks like the financial institution’s website, or it may install malware on their device. Anyone who receives a fraudulent text message should immediately delete the message.

To protect against phishing or smishing scams, the New York State Office of Information Technology Services (ITS) and DCP recommend the following precautions:

Things to remember the next time you receive an unsolicited text from a bank or financial institution:

  1. Inspect the sender information to confirm that the message was generated from a legitimate source, but don’t click on the link Where call number on text.
  2. Don’t reply to the text. Even the writing STOP will let the scammer know that your number is genuine, and they can sell your number to other scammers, compounding the problem.
  1. Remember, banks will never ask you to provide confidential information via SMS. Requests to this effect, as well as poor spelling or grammar, are telltale signs of a scam.
  1. If in doubt, call the suspected bank or financial institution directly to understand the protocols for alerting customers to potential fraud.
  1. Not publish sensitive information online. The less information you post, the less data you make available to a cybercriminal to use in developing an attack or potential scams.
  1. Keep an eye out for misspelled words that are used to bypass a phone company’s fraud filtering system.

A simple way to prevent spam is to block unknown senders on your cell phone:

  • Go to your phone settings
  • Click on messages or block numbers (depending on your phone type)
  • Tap “Filter unknown senders” or tap “Block numbers” (depending on your phone type)

For more information on phishing scams, as well as steps to take to mitigate a phishing attempt, visit the ITS Phishing Awareness resource page at its.ny.gov/resources or the DCP Phishing Scam Prevention Tips page at dos.ny.gov/identity-theft-prevention-and-mitigation-program.

The New York State Division of Consumer Protection serves to educate, assist and empower consumers in the state. You can contact The Consumer Assistance Helpline at 800-697-1220, Monday through Friday, 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., excluding holidays. You can also file a consumer complaint at any time at dos.ny.gov/consumer-protection.

For more consumer protection tips, follow DCP on Twitter @NYSConsumer and Facebook (nysconsumer).

Secretary of State Robert J. Rodriguez said“With advances in technology, unscrupulous individuals are becoming more creative in how to steal your personal information, which can lead to identity theft and serious financial hardship. Anyone who receives questionable text messages not solicited must delete them immediately. The Consumer Protection Division works tirelessly to raise awareness of schemes such as phishing texts that attempt to steal your financial and personal information with the click of a fraudulent link.

New York State Police Superintendent Kevin P. Bruen said: “We urge all New Yorkers to exercise extreme caution if they receive any type of correspondence from a financial institution requesting personal information or that an account has been compromised. Even if a text message or website Web appears to be valid, do not provide any information without confirmation. We want to remind people to contact their financial institution first and check statements regularly to make sure they are not being defrauded. State Police will continue to work with our law enforcement partners to stop these schemes and hold accountable those who prey on innocent people.

Courtesy of New York State Department of Consumer Protection

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