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SMISHING: Phishing by Cell Phone Texts


MADISON - Everyday citizens of Wisconsin must be wary of scammers at seemingly every turn. Unsolicited phone calls, emails, and letters can all be part of a ruse to get personal information vital to identity theft. Now unsolicited texts can be added to the list.


Dubbed "smishing," texting schemes to gain personal information are just a new face on an old trick. Consumers are sent a text claiming there is a problem with one of their accounts, usually a financial account like a credit card. Accompanied with this message is a number the consumer is supposed to call to resolve the situation. Instead of customer service from a credit card company, however, this is usually a number used by a con artist to gather private information.


"This scam is just the latest of a long line of scams with which, unfortunately, the people of Wisconsin are becoming increasingly familiar. It is important that consumers react to 'smishing' with the same caution they would with any other unsolicited message" said Attorney General J.B. Van Hollen. "The last thing you should do is reply with personal information to text messages from an unknown number."


To avoid falling for this scam, here are some tips to remember:


  • Contact your account representative in question directly using the customer service number on your account statement or the number given on the provider's Web site to verify that the account problem is legitimate;
  • Do not respond to unsolicited texts, as legitimate businesses and companies will usually not contact their customers via texting unless the customer has agreed to receive such text messages; and
  • DATCP (Department of Agriculture, Trade & Consumer Protection) at:800-422-7128 or (608) 224-4953.