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Sunday, June 14, 2009

Another phishing scam

The Pennsylvania Attorney General is warning about another phishing scam. Phishing is where identity thieves or other criminals try to get you to give them your private information (i.e. Social Security number, date of birth, etc.) so they can then use it to steal the consumer's identity or sell it to someone willing to steal the identity. This new scam involves text messages or automated calls to cell phones.

"Attorney General Tom Corbett urged consumers to be watchful for scam text messages or automated calls on their cell phones and urged consumers to never divulge personal information in response to an unsolicited message. Corbett explained that the Attorney General’s Bureau of Consumer Protection has been receiving a steadily increasing number of complaints about unwanted cell phone text messages – often claiming to be from consumers’ banks or credit card companies.

'These bogus ‘security alerts’ typically warn consumers that their bank or credit card account has been compromised and requests that they send a reply message or call a toll-free number to correct the problem,' Corbett said. 'Consumers who call the scam number are often asked to ‘confirm’ their account number, password or PIN – leaving them vulnerable to fraudulent charges or identity theft.'

Corbett noted that identity thieves are always looking for ways to disguise their scheme and reach out to new potential victims – especially young people, who are much more likely to use text message services. Messages that appear to come from banks, credit card companies or other legitimate businesses are the latest tools that thieves are using to trick consumers into giving up vital personal information. Corbett added that consumers are also reporting a growing problem with unwanted 'spam' text messages. These messages are typically unsolicited ads for prescription drugs or pornography and can be costly for consumers, who may be charged fees ranging from $.10 to $.50 per message that they receive.

Corbett offered the following tips for consumers interested in preventing unwanted 'spam' or scam text messages:

- Be careful when asked for your telephone number. Giving your phone number in response to contests or online promotions can lead to unwanted calls and messages.

- Never respond to unsolicited text messages – it only lets the sender know they’ve reached a working number and may lead to more messages in the future.

- If your wireless provider bills you for unsolicited messages, contact them and ask them to remove the charge or give you a credit for those fees.

- If your cell phone company will not waive fees for unsolicited text messages, file a complaint with the Attorney General’s Bureau of Consumer Protection.

- If you do not wish to receive any text messages, consider asking your cell phone provider to block all text message services for your phone.

- Report messages that are deceptive, offensive or advertise illegal products or services."

The rest of the article can be found here - http://www.gantdaily.com/news/11/ARTICLE/54229/2009-06-14.html.

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