SACRAMENTO, CA - Cyber criminals are sending fake text messages to lure you into giving away personal information like your social security number, bank account number or credit card information.
This is just one of many reasons why you shouldn't trust your texts, according to security experts.
Cyber security expert Michael Gregg, with "Superior Solutions", said it is easy to send people text messages while posing as a bank.
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One fake text from him read, "Because of an unusual number of login attempts, your Chase account has been blocked. Please contact customer service at ...."
Another fake text message he sent read, "Your account has been blocked because your balance has been exceeded. Please go to --- or call me directly at ---."
"One of the most curious ones would actually be if you get a text message from your child and your child says, 'Come pick me up. I'm at this location,' and you go and it's not your child but someone there to rob you,'" Gregg said.
For a criminal, sending a fake text message or email is as simple as downloading some inexpensive software, or using a VOIP, Voice Over IP System. Criminals also can access your cellphone if there's no password or pin.
Fake text messages are called SMS phishing, or "smishing," which is a growing problem. The user solicits information from people by luring them to respond quickly.
"Many times they write these in a way to get you to panic or to act quickly without thinking," Gregg said. "A lot of times, they'll use it for bank fraud. They'll send you a fake SMS message. 'I need you to call this number to verify.' Then, you call back and they say that, 'We're trying to verify your birth, social security number,' and then they use it to extract money from your bank account."
Gregg said sometimes criminals on the other line also ask for your social security number, your driver's license number, or the last four digits of your cellphone or bank account number.
"Sometimes people don't realize it has happened to them. In many cases, they've not reported it to police," Gregg said.
Some fake texts include offers for free $1,000 gift cards from businesses like Best Buy or Macy's. Other fake text messages could say that your bank account is deactivated, and in order to reactivate your account, you need to call the given number and offer your information.
"It's another way groups can get access to your financial info, get access to your bank account or other data," Gregg said.
Gregg said the bottom line is not to trust all your text messages.
If you receive a text message from a bank urging you to call a certain number, implying that there is a problem with your debit card or credit card or ATM card, don't call the listed number or click on the provided link.
Instead, call your local branch office and ask whether the text was sent. When in doubt, call first and verify, even if you think the text was sent from someone you know.
By Suzanne Phan, email@example.com