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Nessel issues consumer alert about smishing

The scams aim to get personal information from victims, including credit card numbers or passwords, and can encourage victims to click on links that install malware.
Credit: AP
FILE - Attorney General Dana Nessel speaks during a news conference in Detroit, Thursday, Oct. 14, 2021. Faith-based adoption agencies that contract with the state of Michigan can refuse to place children with same-sex couples under a proposed settlement filed in federal court Tuesday, Jan. 25, 2022, months after the U.S. Supreme Court ruled for a Catholic charity in a similar case. (Max Ortiz/Detroit News via AP, File)

MICHIGAN, USA — Attorney General Dana Nessel is warning Michiganders against smishing, or SMS phishing. The scams send fraudulent texts to victims and claim to come from Verizon.

Similar to phishing through emails, smishing spoofs phone numbers to appear to come from a legitimate source. The scams aim to get personal information from victims, including credit card numbers or passwords, and can encourage victims to click on links that install malware.

“A common smishing tactic is to send a text warning about a fake problem with one of your accounts and ask for your information,” Nessel said in a release. “Or some scammers will pitch offers too good to be true or even promise free gift cards or trips in order to convince the recipient to click or respond. If this happens, ignore it. It could put malware on your device and lead to identity theft.”

The scam that Michiganders have received looks like this: "Verizon Free Msg: Latest bill processed. Thanks, [MyName]! Here's a little freebie for you: f1smk.exy/XXXXXXXX".

The following steps should be taken to avoid becoming a victim of smishing:

  • Don't share your phone number unless you know the person or organization well.  
  • Don't assume a text is legitimate because it comes from a familiar phone number or area code.  Spammers use caller ID Spoofing to make it appear the text is from a trusted or local source.   
  • Don't provide personal or financial information in response to the unsolicited text or at a website linked to the message.  
  • Don't click on links in suspicious text; they could install malware on your device or take you to a site that does the same.  
  • Don't reply, even if the message says you can "text STOP" to avoid more messages.  That tells the scammer or spammer your number is active and can be sold to other bad actors.   
  • Never follow a text's instructions to push a designated key to opt out of future messages. 

Customers of AT&T, Verizon, Sprint, Bell and T-Mobile can report spam or smishing by copying the text and sending it to 7726 (SPAM). Complaints can also be filed by clicking here.

Read more about smishing here.

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