Phishing text messages become latest scams

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TALLAHASSEE, Fla. - As technology advances, scammers are using new methods to attempt to steal people's money.

Florida financial institutions are reporting complaints of phishing text messages aimed at gaining access to debit card information. The Florida Office of Financial Regulation urges all consumers to beware of phishing scams using text messages or email messages.

Consumers can protect themselves and their money by learning about phishing scams and by staying aware of this scam potentially waiting on their phone or in their inbox.

Phishing is when scammers impersonate a financial institution or a business to deceive consumers into releasing personal information. Phishing can be email messages, text messages, phone calls or pop-up messages on websites, and it will ask for passwords, bank account numbers, Social Security numbers, credit card numbers, debit card numbers and/or personal identification numbers (PINs). These phishing text and email messages are not legitimate.

A consumer may receive a phishing text or email stating, "There is a problem with your account," or, "We suspect an unauthorized transaction on your account," or even, "Our records indicate your account has been overcharged."

The consumer is then directed to a website or phone number that may look real but is actually part of the scam and will collect the personal information entered to be used by the scammer to steal the consumer's money or identity.

If you receive a phishing email or text message:

Do not open any links or call any phone numbers in the text or email message.

Report the fake text or email message to the legitimate business or financial institution using the contact information on financial statements or the back of the card issued to you.

Delete the text or email message.

To help protect against identity theft:

Review your account statements regularly to verify charges.

Request a fraud alert with the three major credit bureaus (Equifax, Experian or TransUnion) if you suspect your personal information has been compromised.

Report complaints to the Federal Trade Commission.

Legitimate businesses and financial institutions will not ask consumers to send personal or financial information through insecure paths. If you are concerned about your account or need to contact your financial institution or a company you do business with, use contact information that you can verify.

If you have fallen victim to fraud or if you suspect questionable practices, file a complaint online with the OFR or call 850-487-9687.

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