Ashtabula County residents may have gotten an unwanted text message on Tuesday as the latest identity theft scheme reached northeast Ohio.
Verizon customers may have received a text message for Target store customers. One such message, from telephone number 302-464-0801, promises a $1,000 store gift card claimable at a web site. Call the number and a message says, “The Google subscriber you have called is unavailable at this time.”
A Verizon Wireless customer service employee said even if a customer doesn’t follow the website link in the text, they could be charged just for opening the message.
This new practice of phishing, called “SMiShing,” uses SMS text messages and the text may look like it was sent from a reputable source — usually a big-box store or national retailer. Links are designed to collect personal information from people looking to claim their prize.
But don’t respond in any way, the Better Business Bureau warns. Instead, if you receive a suspicious text:
- Don’t click on any links in the text message.
- Contact your cell phone provider to block the phone number.
- Delete the message.
- Don’t give any personal information, even if you are promised a prize.
- If the scam is successful, contact the BBB and file a complaint.
Cell phones don’t contract viruses the way computers do, the Verizon employee said, and the third-party senders usually get phone numbers from the Internet.