Criminal Phishing Going Mobile

Sep 04, 2012, 12:13 ET from Texas Credit Union League

Text Message Phishing Scams on the Rise

FARMERS BRANCH, Texas, Sept. 4, 2012 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- A growing number of unsuspecting consumers are falling victim to a phishing scam cleverly coined "SMiShing."  Through the use of SMS text messaging, criminals behind SMiShing scams usually hook their victims by impersonating large, national brands so they can reach a broader audience.

"Texting scams vary in their approach but are similar to phishing e-mails, which are designed to trick consumers into visiting a link, calling a provided phone number or some other activity that will prompt the victim to provide his or her personal information," says Mike Saylor, vice president of technology for the Texas Credit Union League (League).  "The success of these texting scams is mostly statistical, where the bait is blindly sent to thousands, if not millions, of potential victims knowing only a small percentage will bite."

Recently, a number of credit union members living in the Texas Panhandle reportedly received text messages from criminals impersonating financial institutions. These impersonators claimed in their texts that their members' ATM cards had been deactivated. The texts then prompted their recipients to call a number with a Texas area code and enter their card and PIN numbers into the system. The victims were unaware that their ATM and credit cards were actually still active.

Saylor says there are several signs would-be victims can identify in these texts to avoid falling for one of these scams. Saylor suggests being vigilant of the following:

  • A request for passwords, PIN numbers, access codes or other personally defined security information. These alone should serve as a red flag.
  • Any request for sensitive information received via text. This should always be considered fraudulent.
  • Any spelling or grammatical errors and/or use of contractions. As Saylor points out, it should be common knowledge that your financial institution would never send a text saying, "Your card's been deactivated."

Saylor also recommends calling the number on the back of your ATM or credit card and speaking with a representative about the text message. Finally, use common sense. You would never respond to an e-mail requesting password and bank account information, so how you handle a text message with the same requests shouldn't be any different.

About Texas Credit Union League
The Texas Credit Union League is the state trade association serving more than 500 credit unions in Texas. Organized in 1934, the Texas Credit Union League supports credit unions, not-for-profit, member-owned, volunteer-directed cooperatives, which in turn are owned by over 7 million members. For more information, visit

Media elements: Interview with Mike Saylor, at

SOURCE Texas Credit Union League