Austin, Texas, July 10, 2008 - Everyone with an email box experiences spam. Those junk messages offering porn, prescription drugs and the latest get-rich-quick schemes have plagued people for years. Now spam is blowing up mobile phones via text messages, and some of them are attempting to steal sensitive personal information.
Central Texans tell BBB they have received unsolicited text messages from banking institutions. Many of the recipients are not even customers of the banks in question. The messages state the consumer's bank account has been closed "due to unusual activity" and asks them to call a phone number to re-activate their account.
Text Spam Scheme
Cyber-criminals target folks with these text messages to try and steal their sensitive personal information. They use the names and logos of legitimate banking institutions in these phishing schemes without their consent or knowledge. When someone falls for it, the cyber-criminals request and collect confidential information like financial account numbers, IDs and passwords.
The cyber-criminals sell this information to other criminals who use it for financial gain. They can also access the customer's accounts through online banking and set up false bill payments that send checks to the criminal or a conspirator. In other cases, criminals transfer funds from all available customer accounts, including credit cards, savings accounts and home equity loans, into their checking account. A copy of the customer's credit card or check card is then used with their PIN at ATMs around the world to withdraw cash from their checking account.
To increase the number of responses, cyber-criminals include upsetting or exciting statements in their text messages. They want people to react immediately and respond with the desired information without thinking about whether or not they are actually customers of the banking institution.
What You Can Do
BBB offers these tips to help consumers protect themselves:
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