5 On Your Side

Don't get 'smished'

Posted January 20, 2010 6:08 p.m. EST
Updated January 22, 2010 11:46 a.m. EST

— A nationwide scam involving automated teller machines and cell phones has hit the Triangle.

Similar to so-called "phishing" scams in which people try to obtain personal financial information through what appear to be legitimate e-mails, the new scam, which is called "smishing" involves text messages.

The message asks for the person's account number and identification code to resolve the matter.

Anyone who sends the requested information receives a second text saying that everything has been taken care of.

One local man said $500 was taken from his account within a day of replying to such text messages.

Law enforcement and bank officials urge people to never disclose personal information in a text message that could be used by an identity thief, such as account numbers, ID codes and birth dates.

They also recommend locking the keypad when the phone isn't in use or, if possible, securing the entire phone. People should also frequently delete messages in case someone else gets a hold of their phones, officials said.