Scammers Now Using Text Messaging in Phishing Attempts

February 25, 2009

These days scam artists take aim with every weapon in their arsenal, including your cell phone. Phishing attempts used to come via email or internet sites. However, the most sophisticated identity thieves are upping the ante, using new methods to defraud businesses and their consumers.

Consumers have reported receiving text messages on their cell phones purporting to be from Methodist Healthcare Federal Credit Union. The urgent message warns the recipients that his or her identity has been compromised. A toll free number is provided for response. When the toll free number is called, the consumer is asked to verify his or her credit card number or provide other forms of identification.

According to Kristi Vick, President, the messages are not from Methodist Healthcare Federal Credit Union. “Our information has not been compromised in any way,” Vick stated. “There were two toll free numbers provided in the phony text messages. Both numbers have been shut down.” Vick also stated that some consumers are now reporting receiving the same urgent messages via email.

Randy Hutchinson, BBB President, urges consumers to recognize the red flags prevalent in phishing attempts. “They all imply some sense of urgency, asking the recipient to immediately verify account information,” Hutchinson said. “They indicate that consumers must act now to prevent further problems.”

The BBB of the Mid-South cautions consumers to beware of phishing scams, no matter how the message is delivered, and offers these tips:

· Don’t provide information in response to unsolicited emails, phone calls, or text messages.

· If the request appears to come from your bank or financial institution, contact them directly, using the number on the back of your debit or credit card, to report the matter.

· Financial institutions and government agencies do not use prerecorded messages to handle security issues.

· If you have reason to believe a request for information is legitimate, contact the business directly.

· If your bank telephones you to report suspicious use of your card, they will not need to request identifying information; they already have that on record.

· Do not automatically trust a phone number based on its area code. Con artists can hack into Caller ID systems, and VoIP users can assign any area code to a phone number.

If you think you have been a victim of phishing, visit the FTC’s Identity Theft Web site at