The New York State Division of Consumer Protection today warned New Yorkers of a text phishing scheme targeting cell phone users with an attempt to steal their information. Fraudsters are impersonating financial institutions claiming that a customer’s account is compromised ‘due to unusual activity’, but the message is an attempt to deceive the recipient into sharing personal information.
These scams usually work when someone poses as a representative of a bank or financial institution to get information such as your credit card number, bank account number, or social security number. This is known as phishing. The message usually asks the users to confirm their account information, make a payment, or claim a prize. The link may also ask the users to click on the link inside the text, which directs them to a phony site that looks like the financial institution’s website, or it may install malware onto their device. The illicit text message shown below impersonates a bank in an attempt to gain access to personal information. Anyone who receives a fraudulent text message should delete the message right away.
Secretary of State Robert J. Rodriguez said, “With the advances in technology, unscrupulous individuals are becoming more creative in how to steal your personal information which can result in identity theft and serious financial hardship. Anyone who receives unsolicited dubious text messages should delete them right away. The Division of Consumer Protection works tirelessly to make people aware of schemes such as the phishing texts trying to steal your financial and personal information with just a click on a fraudulent link.”
New York State Chief Information Officer Angelo "Tony" Riddick said, “One of the most common online scams is phishing—an attempt to solicit personal information from users by masquerading as a trustworthy entity. The Consumer Alert today warning of text scams involving fake bank fraud informs New Yorkers to remain vigilant by deleting the fraudulent text message immediately. The public should always remember the importance of protecting their personal data from cyber criminals. ITS continues to provide a wide variety of helpful cyber tips for the public, online safety resources and real-time advisories that can help safeguard against cybercrime.”
Superintendent of Financial Services Adrienne A. Harris said, “Phishing scams regularly exploit the trust built between an individual and a financial institution to obtain highly sensitive information, which can be used to steal your identity or your hard-earned money. Cyber threats can take many different forms, targeting both consumers and businesses directly. DFS will continue working with regulated financial institutions to monitor cybersecurity trends and implement best practices to ensure consumer data is safeguarded from malicious actors.”
New York State Police Superintendent Kevin P. Bruen said, “We urge all New Yorkers to take 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 looks valid, do not provide any information without confirmation. We want to remind people to contact their financial institution first and to check statements regularly to ensure they are not a victim of fraud. The State Police will continue to work with our law enforcement partners to put a stop to these schemes and hold accountable those who prey on innocent people.”
To help protect against phishing or smishing (SMS phishing) scams, the NYS Office of Information Technology Services (ITS) and the Division of Consumer Protection recommend the following precautions:
The things to remember the next time you receive an unsolicited text message from a bank or financial institution:
- Inspect the sender’s information to confirm that the message was generated from a legitimate source, but don’t click on the link or call the number on the text.
- Do not respond to the text. Even writing STOP will let the scammer know your number is genuine, and they may sell your number to other scammers, making the problem worse.
- Remember, banks will never ask you to provide confidential information through text. Requests to do so, as well as poor spelling or grammar, are telltale signs of a scam.
- If you are suspicious, call the alleged bank or financial institution directly to understand the protocols for alerting customers of potential fraud.
- Do Not post sensitive information online. The less information you post, the less data you make available to a cybercriminal for use in developing a potential attack or scams.
- Keep an eye out for misspelled words which are used to bypass a phone carrier’s filter system for fraud.
One simple method for preventing spam texts is to block unknown senders from your cell phone:
- Go to settings on your phone
- Click on messages or block numbers (depending on your phone type)
- Hit “Filter Unknown Senders” or tap on “Block Numbers” (depending on your phone type)
For more information on phishing scams, as well as steps to mitigate a phishing attempt, visit the NYS Office of Information Technology Services Phishing Awareness resources page at https://its.ny.gov/resources or the Division of Consumer Protection Phishing Scam Prevention Tips page at https://dos.ny.gov/identity-theft-prevention-and-mitigation-program.
The New York State Division of Consumer Protection serves to educate, assist and empower the State’s consumers. You may contact The Consumer Assistance Helpline at 1-800-697-1220 on Monday through Friday from 8:30am to 4:30pm, excluding State Holidays. You may also file a consumer complaint any time at https://dos.ny.gov/consumer-protection.
For more consumer protection tips, follow the Division on social media at Twitter: @NYSConsumer and Facebook: www.facebook.com/nysconsumer.