'Smishing' scam targets your text messages

A scam is going around targeting people on their cells phones. Several people reached out to 13News Now telling us about suspicious text messages on their phones.

HAMPTON ROADS, Va. (WVEC)  -- A scam is going around targeting people on their cells phones. Several people reached out to 13News Now telling us about suspicious text messages on their phones. Marlene Kemp-Threatt got two of the text messages claiming that her debit card was on hold. 

“It said I couldn’t use my credit card and it was on hold. But the number didn’t look familiar to me so I let it go but then I received another one,” said Kemp-Threatt. 

The text message claimed that Kemp-Threatt’s card starting with the numbers 41615 was the one on hold. She immediately called her husband who also received the text messages and told him to delete the text messages. 

“I was like this is a scam. I told my husband this is a scam automatically he deletes everything off his phone,” said Kemp-Threatt.

Kemp-Threatt inquired a little further into the scam and called the number listed from another phone that was blocked. She said when she got a strange prompt her suspicions about the scam were confirmed.

“I called that number and it tells you to put in your credit card number. Being financial counselor when I was in the US NAVY you never give out your credit card unless you call them. Not when they contact you,” said Kemp-Threatt.

One of the scam text messages specifically names the Norfolk Fire Federal Credit Union, which is a legitimate business in Norfolk. 13News Now reached out the credit union and they said they are aware of the scam but have no idea where it is coming from. The credit union advised people to delete the messages if they received them.

According to USA TODAY, these text messages are a scam called 'smishing'. Similar to a “phishing” scams where computer users receive an authentic-looking email that appears to be from their bank, Internet Service Provider (ISP), “smishing” messages are sent to you via SMS (text message) on your mobile phone.

Cybercriminals are trying to lure you into providing account information — such as a login name, password or credit card info — by tapping on a link that takes you to a website. Here they can get enough info to steal your identity.

You can avoid becoming a victim of this scam by doing several things like, not responding to the text messages and deleting them. There’s also anti-malware (“malicious software”) software for mobile devices, many of which can detect and stop a "smishing" attempts.

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