TEXT MESSAGE AND PHONE SCAMS: IN THE NEWS

Recently, a new scam involving text messages has begun to surface, and many people have reported being victims or at least intended victims. There is a text message going around that seems to come from a trusted source – Sears. The message reads: “customer issue. sears card frozen. please call at 786-206-5901”. When the number is called, the customer is asked to enter his or her Sears card number. Sears has addressed the issue saying that it is indeed a scam – a fake text from an illegitimate source, and that customers should never give out their card information.

This text message has alarmed many people. For those who do not have a Sears card there was concern of identity theft – someone else perhaps opening a card in their name. For Sears card holders, given that this is the busiest shopping season of the year, it can easily be mistaken as a legitimate message. Many people do their holiday shopping at Sears, and if you’d just charged a considerable amount to your card, this text would likely send you into a frenzy, which is exactly what the scammers want – people who will act before they think.

The Federal Trade Commission has now disconnected the phone number, so anyone else who calls will hear the message: “This is a message from the FTC. The telephone number you just called has been disconnected because it may be involved in a scam. You might have gotten this phone number from e-mail, text or voice mail message, but no matter how real it seems, that message was a trick.”

There are also several reports of a similar text message that claims to be from a bank, which could be even more damaging if anyone were to give out their bank account information. Authorities urge anyone receiving such a text message to call the customer service number on the back of their bank card to report and inquire.

Another very harmful phone scam currently in operation uses scare tactics to trick unsuspecting people into giving out their personal information. A scammer will call and inform their victim that they failed to report to jury duty, and therefore a warrant for their arrest has been issued. The caller will then claim that in order to clear the matter up, one must provide their social security number, date of birth, and even a credit card number in some cases.

The bottom line here is to NEVER give out your personal information to a stranger. If anyone calls or texts you asking for anything like this, do not respond. Instead, go directly to the source for answers – do not trust these texts and calls that could be coming from anyone.

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