You Must Update Your Account - Phishing Schemes Abound

June 01, 2009

The BBB has received several calls from consumers who have received phishing text messages. Others report getting phishing phone calls or voicemails on their cell phones. Regardless of the delivery method, the urgent message warns the recipients that his or her credit or debit card has been compromised. In some instances, the message warns that your shopping privileges have been suspended. 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.

One BBB caller received a text message on his cell phone advising him that there had been unusual activity on his VISA account and gave him a number to call. He recognized it as a phishing attempt because he doesn’t have a VISA card.

Another consumer listened to the message and followed the prompts to enter her debit card number. When prompted to enter her PIN, she became suspicious and ended the call. She immediately contacted her bank, who advised her that they were deactivating that card and issuing her a new one.

Jane Driggs, 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,” Driggs said. “They indicate that consumers must act now to prevent further problems.”

The BBB 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, or you have reason to believe a request is legitimate, contact the business 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 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.