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In San Diego, Orange and Imperial Counties

Educational Consumer Tips


Mobile phones are targeted by scammers seeking to obtain personal information to commit identity theft or to lure consumers into misleading services that will cost more than the reward promised. Consumers will receive text messages with promises of rewards such as gift cards to retail stores and cash. The message usually contains a link which forwards the consumer to a website requesting personal information. In many of these cases, the information requested is banking or credit card information. Some of the offers require the consumer to spend far more than the reward promised to actually receive the reward. Scammers target mobile phones because consumers are more likely to respond quickly and less likely to think about the consequences of responding via text." />
SMS Phishing (Smishing)

Author: Better Business Bureau
Published:

The BBB encourages consumers to never give out personal information to unknown individuals/companies online or over the phone. The following are steps you can take to reduce the number of Smishing texts received as well as what to do if you receive them.

·Do not display your mobile phone number or email address in public.
·Be careful about giving out your mobile phone number, email address, or any other personal information. Make sure to read through and understand the entire transmitting form. Some websites allow you to opt out of receiving email from partners – but you may have to uncheck a preselected box if you want to do so. Make sure to check for a privacy policy when submitting your wireless phone number or email address to any website. Find out if the policy allows the company to sell your information.
·Do not respond to unwanted texts or emails from questionable sources. Several mobile service providers will allow you to forward unwanted spam texts by simply forwarding it to 7726 (or “SPAM”) to enable the providers to prevent future unwanted texts from the specific sender.
·Check with your mobile service provider about options to block future text messages from specific senders.
·Do not reply with “STOP” to phishing/scam texts. Doing this will confirm to the scammers that your phone number is valid and you may be targeted for more scams.

Unwanted commercial text messages are covered under the FCC’s “CAN-SPAM” act, just as unwanted emails are. If you receive any of these unwanted text messages you can file a complaint with The FCC & The FTC. 

Contact the FCC at www.fcc.gov or 1-888-225-5322 and the FTC at www.ftc.gov or 1-877-382-4357.


If you are on a pay-per-use text message plan, call your wireless provider to complain. Oftentimes, wireless providers may waive charges for victims of Smishing and assist with permanently blocking the number. If you do not use text messaging, ask your provider about disabling the feature all-together.

As a best general practice, the BBB encourages smartphone users to always secure their device with a passcode in the event the device is ever lost or stolen. Always utilize any device locating features provided by the manufacturer or wireless provider. (For example, “Find my iPhone”.) 

If you have personal or sensitive information on your smartphone, often times you can remotely wipe the device, which will delete all of your information. Unfortunately, a consequence of doing this is the inability to use any locating features. Wiping the data should be used as a last resort if you are unable to locate the device after all attempts. As with all stolen property, you should file a police report.

Smartphones, like computers, may be susceptible to viruses, so be sure to only download files and apps from reputable sources. Limit the amount of personal data that app is permitted to access on your phone and always read the privacy policy.