Texting scams have become more common over the last few years, with banking a significant industry targeted by scams. Known as "smishing" (or SMS phishing), such scams use misleading information to attempt and gain an individual's financial or personal information.

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On Christmas Eve, Blue Federal Credit Union warned members on social media to be on alert for text messaging scams attempting to access member information. KGAB staff reached out to Blue Federal Credit Union to clarify what people can do to protect themselves from scam text messaging.

Blue FCU Warns of Rise in Texting Scams and Fraud

"Fraud is on the rise nationally, and Blue takes this growing issue very seriously. As a lifelong champion for our member's accounts, security is a top priority at Blue," explains Brandon Urry, Vice President of Marketing at Blue.

"Our members should know that we do not currently use text messages to update account information. Members should immediately report any activity they feel is suspicious through the official Blue channels. When in doubt, they can report suspected fraud through bluefcu.com/report or call the main phone at 800-368-9328."

Blue FCU shared the below list of steps that members and the public can take to protect themselves from scam messages:

  • Be sure to use two-step authentication for smart devices and mobile apps.
  • Make sure you have unique and complex passwords for your most sensitive logins, including access to your account(s).
  • Be sure to use various passwords instead of using a duplicate password for all logins.
  • Never share your password, PIN or other account information with third parties.

Similar steps are recommended by other banking institutions, including Wells Fargo and Chase Bank.

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The best smishing scams can look real at first glance, but there are ways for you to identify SMS scams with even the most realistic smishing attempts.

How Serious is the Risk of Smishing?

The risk of receiving a fraudulent text message in 2022 is very high. According to a July 2022 press release from the Federal Trade Commission, scam text messages are continually rising.

The sheer number of messaging scams impacting Americans in 2021 is staggering. The scam tracking website Robokiller reported data indicated a massive 47.2 billion spam texts were sent to Americans in December of 2022. Robokiller states that it amounts to 261 spam texts per person in America.

Clearly, Americans are more at risk of fraud from texting schemes than ever, but there are ways to protect themselves from texting scams.

How to Identify Scam Text Messages:

1. The message has links.

The Federal Trade Commission notes that phishing scams usually try to get you to click on a link or open an attachment. Once an individual clicks on the link, their information can become exposed to the scammer. If a text message has a link, don't click on it.

2. The message involves financial information or transactions.

If a message asks for you to verify account information, it's very likely a scam. The same goes for any messages asking you to follow a link to an unfamiliar invoice or urging you to make a payment.

3. The message is "URGENT."

Scammers try to get immediate responses from individuals. If a message demands immediate action, it may be a scam.

4. The message has grammar mistakes, misspellings, or other errors.

If the message has apparent grammar mistakes or misspellings, there's a chance it could be smishing, mainly if the message contains any other signs of a scam message.

5. The message promises free money or financial gain.

Many scams use the prospect of winning money or receiving funds to get individuals to click on the scam link.

Still Not Sure If a Message is Fraudulent?

If you are still unsure if a message is a scam, it's best to leave it alone and reach out to your institution, business, or person the scam is impersonating for clarification.

What Do You Do if You Receive a Smishing Message?

  • If you have identified a smishing message on your phone, the first step is to not respond to the message.
  • Then, you'll want to notify your banking institution or whomever the message is impersonating (e.g., the electric company, the IRS, etc.) of the scam. You can also report the fraud to the FTC at ReportFraud.ftc.gov.
  • After reporting the message, you can block the number and delete the message from your phone.

What Do You Do if You Fall for a Scam?

Blue FCU provided the below step-by-step process for individuals to follow if they believe themselves to have fallen for a scam:

  • Contact your financial institution immediately and give as much detail as you can.
  • Freeze your credit at all three credit agencies. It's free, and it can save you from identity theft.
  • Experian.com 1 (888) 397-3742
  • Transunion.com 1 (800) 916-8800
  • Equifax.com 1 (888) 548-7878
  • Contact your local law enforcement.

About Blue Federal Credit Union

Blue Federal Credit Union has served Cheyenne, Wyoming, and the surrounding area for over 70 years. The institution first opened as Warren Federal Credit Union in 1951 but rebranded to Blue FCU after a merger with Colorado-based Community Financial Credit Union in 2016. Blue serves over 115,000 members globally across its 20 locations. For more information on Blue FCU, click here.

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