Similar to “phishing,” the latest con scammers are using cell and smart phones to smish victims out of bank account information. Identity theft has hit a popular communication tool: text messaging. In my work at keeping my clients financially organized, I see how easily our financial privacy can be compromised.
What is it?
Here’s how it works. Identity thieves pose as your bank and send a text message alerting you that your account, ATM card or credit card is close to the limit, or has been frozen. The text usually instructs victims to call a toll-free number to fix the problem.
Think you wouldn’t fall for it? Well, a very smart you person I know – who is Internet- and texting-savvy – fell for it hook, line and sinker. Identity thieves are pretty crafty, using bank-like language that can be hard to spot. In this person’s situation there was bad and good news. She gave away too much personal information to the scammers. However, she quickly realized her mistake, and since she happened to be near her bank branch she went in immediately. The bank staff worked diligently and shut down the accounts before any money was taken and a new debit card was sent to her within 48 hours. Fortunately for her this identity theft story had a happy ending without losing a penny. It doesn’t here though; since her name and social security number was compromised, she’ll have to monitor her credit report for years to come.
How to Protect Yourself from Identity Theft
There is a trend in banking to help consumers manage their finances. You can set up alerts to let you know when deposits are posted, when your balance falls below a certain dollar amount, or notification of an unpaid e-bill is due. These texts are legitimate since you have authorized your bank to send you these communications. If you receive a suspicious text or email, don’t rely on the phone number included in the correspondence. Don’t respond to the text by sending a reply. Instead use your bank’s website or current statement to find their toll-free number.
What To Do After Being Scammed
If you think you’re a smishing or identity theft victim, call your bank immediately. For additional ways to defend yourself, check out FTC for frequently asked questions about how to recovery from identity theft.
If you have identity theft protection, call your account monitoring provider. If you don’t have identity theft protection, consider getting a policy. For as little as $100 a year, it’s great insurance should your accounts be compromised.
Need help monitoring and reconciling your accounts? Then schedule a free 30-minute consultation with Fiscally Fit, Inc. Email me at Alison@fiscallyfit.us or call (650) 956-4090 for a no-cost, no-obligation appointment.