In Your Corner: Tracking A Local Text Scam

By Ryan Elijah

June 18, 2010 Updated Jul 8, 2010 at 4:49 PM EDT

FORT WAYNE, IN (Indiana's NewsCenter)--
The technical term is "smishing", using "sms" text messages as bait to gain personal information. A text went to countless area residents recently saying their Three Rivers Federal Credit Union card was deactivated. The receiver was instructed to call one of two numbers, including one that was local.

Jason Meyers was leery of the text, but called the number only to find an automated system.

"it said it was credit union services and push 1 to enter your account number and press 2 to enter your pin number, at that point I just hung up", said Jason Meyers.

Authorities tell us the numbers are quickly taken down, in this case, replaced by an FTC warning about possible fraud. Before they were taken down, a local woman entered her financial information, she then called her financial institution and changed her account number.

The woman was fortunate, some victims have had accounts charged less than an hour after giving up their information. Institutions like Three Rivers Federal Credit Union have become more aggressive about such scams, along with alerting police, they also post alerts on their website and social media pages.

Mike Coil, of the Better Business Bureau said "banks have done a good job of educating their customers that they will not contact them in this manner. We saw a number of these scams over the summer, but it has been quiet until the last week or so."

We spoke to Sprint-Nextel about the scams, they told us they have a technical fraud team to block messages that appear fraudulent, however, the scams are sophisticated with a masking software that can clone phone numbers and make it almost impossible to track. Often times the phone company doesn't have a loss, but Sprint insists they still cooperate with law enforcement since the scams impact customers.

The bottom line, tracking down these scams is difficult for law enforcement and the FTC, especially with changing technology. As a consumer the best line of defense is yourself and Jason is the latest example of that. If you receive a message that appears to be a scam, you should contact your bank to confirm it's from them. If it is a scam consumers should also contact police and report the incident to the Attorney Generals' office.

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