Be Aware of Smishing Scams

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posted 1/31/2014 in Community News

What is Smishing?
“Smishing” is another form of Phishing and occurs when a fraudster sends you a SMS/text message asking you to provide sensitive, personal, and/or financial information via a web link and false website, or a telephone number. The messages could even appear to be from entity you do business with.

How does it happen?
The most common examples of Smishing occur when fraudsters send text messages posing as a customer’s financial institution or other business that might have access to sensitive personal information. This could appear to be from a bank which you may or may not have an account with. Banks of all sizes, from local businesses to multi-national institutions, have been targeted by scammers using a variety of messages and techniques. However, the desired outcome for the scammer is the same. If you call a number or go to a website, scammers will use the opportunity to obtain your banking information.

What does it look like?
The details of these scams can vary. Some examples include:

  • The text tells you to verify your account by either following a link on a smart phone or calling a phone number.
  • The message often attempts to alarm the customer. It may threaten dire consequence if you don't respond immediately.
  • The message may direct you to a toll-free number or website that looks just like a legitimate institution’s number, but in fact it is not.
  • Once you have called the number or clicked on the email link, they may ask you to “verify” (give them ) your sensitive information such as credit card number account number and expiration date; your Social Security Number, Bank Account Number and pass code, etc.

To avoid becoming a victim of a smishing scam, we offer the following tips:

  • Don’t give your personal information. If you receive a phone call or text message claiming to be from Northwest Bank and think it could be a scam, hang up and call your Northwest Bank representative to verify the contact.
  • Call the bank to notify us of the text or phone call. Northwest Bank will take all necessary precautions to keep your personal information safe. Protecting your account(s) is our primary goal.
  • Delete the text 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.
  • Verify the web address. If you think the text is real, be sure the link provided is directing to a web address like “bank-northwest.com” not “bank-northwest.otherwebsite.com.”
  • Report it. Call your cell-phone service provider and have the number the text came from blocked. You might have them block all premium text messages, as well.
  • If the scammers succeed: File an Identity Theft Report  with the Federal Trade Commission (FTC). You should also call your affected credit card companies or banks, to alert them and perhaps cancel accounts and get new ones.
  • Be vigilant: Finally, remember to check your credit report regularly, for signs of foul play. You may, after all, have been victimized without even realizing it. You can get a free copy of your credit report from each of the reporting agencies once per year, at www.annualcreditreport.com to look for fraudulent activity.

Northwest Bank will not request your personal information via phone call or text message. If ever in doubt, please call Northwest Bank and speak with a representative about the potential scam.