Telephone and e-mail scams are well known and widespread, but there’s a new texting scam that’s targeting cell phone users.
Some locals have also become targets of this scam. A 70-year-old Tifton woman reported to the Tifton Police Department that she received a text message Monday night from a Visa credit/debit card company claiming her account was blocked or locked due to fraud. She said she received the text from phone number 770-809-1134 with instructions to text or call the number and provide her card number.
She said when the number is called, a request is made for personal information via a voice message with no options or a customer service representative.
The woman called her bank and checked on her Visa card account, which was still active. She said the text message was a scam to obtain her account information and card number to commit fraud. She called Verizon, because she only uses her Visa card to make her phone service payments. Verizon said they didn’t call and noted they wouldn’t request her information via text. The woman said the company advised her to report the incident to law enforcement.
Other media outlets have also warned people of this same type of scam. WFXL Fox 31 in Albany recently reported the Crisp County Sheriff’s Office had received telephone calls Tuesday from concerned residents about a texting scam. Also, WSAV-TV News in Savannah reported in December, shortly after Christmas, that Savannah residents reported a texting scam, which hit on Christmas Day. They reported the Effingham Sheriff’s Department said they had almost 100 reports filed the Thursday after Christmas Day.
After The Tifton Gazette posted a question on Facebook Thursday morning asking locals if they had received a text message about their accounts being locked due to credit fraud, more than 45 comments came flooding in with yes responses.
• “I received one yesterday and deleted it immediately.” -- Johnny O. Smith
• “I’ve gotten it several times.” -- Terri Rigby
• “Yes, I did a phone number and learned it was a landline in nw ga (Northwest Georgia). My county sheriff office employee also got one. Soooo wished thieves/scams could be stopped.” -- Phyllis Fletcher
• “I got one yesterday but knew it was a scam cause they listed the beginning numbers and they didn’t even match mine.” -- Sarah Register Patterson
The Better Business Bureau warns against these types of scams and says if you call the number or go to the website given, scammers will use the opportunity to obtain your banking information. They advised cell phone users to delete a texting scam immediately without responding to it. Ignore instructions to text “STOP” or “NO.” This is a common ploy by scammers to confirm they have a real, active phone number.
The Federal Trade Commission says text message spam is to your cell phone what e-mail spam is to your personal computer. Both may try to get you to reveal personal information. They provided a few steps to can text message spam:
• Delete text messages that ask you to confirm or provide personal information. Legitimate companies don’t ask for information like your account numbers or passwords by e-mail or text.
• Don’t reply and don’t click on links provided in the message. Links can install malware on your computer and take you to spoof sites that look real but whose purpose is to steal your information.
• Treat your personal information like cash. Your Social Security number, credit card numbers and bank and utility account numbers can be used to steal your money or open new accounts in your name. Don’t give them out in response to a text.
• Place your cell phone number on the National Do Not Call Registry.
• If you are an AT&T, T-Mobile, Verizon, Sprint or Bell subscriber, you can report spam texts to your carrier by copying the original message and forwarding it to the number 7726 (SPAM), free of charge.
• Review your cell phone bill for unauthorized charges, and report them to your carrier.
Lt. Lee Dunston with the TPD has advised in the past that with any scam, people should not give out their personal information without checking the details in full.
To contact reporter Latasha Ford, call 382-4321.