How to Avoid the New Phishing Attack on Cell Phone Users

phishingApparently phishing has escaped the bounds of the web, and is now also targeting people through mobile phones.  I received a somewhat suspicious phone call and an unusual text message over the last two days that lead me to believe that scammers are right now trying to steal from Verizon customers, and likely from people on other networks too, by deceptively getting them to hand over personal information.

Phishing is a scamming technique employed by crooks to extract personal information and credit card numbers for purposes of identity theft.  They do this by impersonating a company that people already have a trusting relationship with. We’ve all seen those fake emails from banks asking us to reset our password.

The other day I received this text message:

From:900-070-004665 Free VZW msg. UR on track 2 incur overage charges for Minute, Data, or Message usage. Dial #MIN & #DATA to check usage or review usage at CB:888-453-1922

I didn’t think much of it at the time, and in fact I did check #MIN (a Verizon service that I know to be legitimate) and found out that I in fact had plenty of minutes left for the month.  Phishers will put in legit contact info like #MIN, #DATA and in order to make their message seem more trustworthy.  What they’re counting on, though, is for a small percentage of recipients to call the 888 phone number, where they likely answer the phone still claiming to be Verizon.  Forgive me for not calling to find out.

Anyway, I ignored the text at the time, and didn’t think of it again until I got a missed call (no voicemail) yesterday from the number 888-453-1918, a similar 888 number.  A web search revealed that numerous people have gotten calls from this number over the last week, and apparently if you call back, they pick up claiming to be Verizon Wireless request your account information.  They are not Verizon Wireless.

I hope that by sharing my story and the operating methods of phishers, I can prevent someone from falling for this scam.  Here’s the general rule to follow in order to not be a phishing victim: Be wary of all communications from companies, and doubly suspicious if they ask for personal, account, or credit card information.  If you’re not sure if a communication is legitimate or fake, you can find out by going to the company’s real website (not through some link in a fraudulent email) and calling their real support number.

If anybody believes they are being phished from other phone numbers, please contact me so I can post a warning here on Hellaphone.

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14 Responses to How to Avoid the New Phishing Attack on Cell Phone Users

  1. G-in-Socal says:

    I also got this message recently. These days, I go online and do a search when I see a number that I don’t recognize, just to make sure that it isn’t a phishing scam.

    The irony is, I checked my account online and found that I had just gone over my minutes! Thanks a-hole phisher!

  2. ed says:

    Thanks foir the heads up posting. I just got the same messaging sequences over two days.

  3. FedUp says:

    Several months ago I also got a letter from a “collection agency” (IC Systems) claiming I’m overdue $7 on my Verizon (LIE!!!!) and that if I didn’t send a check for the amount I would be in big trouble *rolling eyes*

    I got that same phony text yesterday, and missed call from this same number today.
    I knew something was fishy because I’m on the DO NOT CALL LIST but I am getting these spamming numbers pop up. That’s why I do an Intelius search and google search on every one of them.

    Thanks, Andy!

  4. Ron says:

    Thanks for putting up your note. Glad it’s so easy to identify the scams now.

    Great name for a site too. Exactly how I feel about my phone sometimes. 🙂


  5. Dawn says:

    I just got a call from the 888 number and yesterday got the text. I too checked my minutes and I’m well under, but did not call.

    I never answer my phone, unless they are programed in. sorry state of affairs……

    Thank you for this page!

  6. Thank You says:

    I got the exact same text message yesterday (11/11/09) and had a missed call from 888-453-1918 today (11/12/09). So I googled the missed # and found a number of sites discussing the scam.

    Thanks for helping us hard working people out there stay aware of what’s going on.

  7. FedUp says:

    Anybody else get this email?
    From “AccountNotify@verizonwireless.”
    It has an attachment, with NO SUBJECT (fishy, yeah?) size is 9kb. I did NOT open it because I have never seen a Verizon email from this address before. I just marked it as SCAM and DELETED it.

  8. Evan says:

    Thank you for posting this. I just had a missed call from 888-453-1918 (also without a voicemail) as well and instead of calling them back, I decided to see if I could find them on the web. Thank goodness I did. Last thing I need is for some phishing scam to steal money from me as well as the government!

  9. doubtingthomas says:

    Just had the same thing happen to me: same message number; same 888 number. Thanks!

  10. Mario DiLeo says:

    WOW…have been getting those text messages claiming to be “FREE” These guys are slick…

  11. Roberta in Irvine says:

    This happened to me, it’s real. I also got the phone number 866-299-2882. How did they get my cell phone number?

  12. Bob K. says:

    They are calling me too. They use numbers 888-453-1918 and 888-453-1960

  13. Dolly C. says:

    I started getting these mails about two months ago and they are showing up monthly. I didn’t feel driven to act on them, however, as I’ve never heard from Verizon and don’t live in America.

    I still worried a bit though until I found this article.

  14. jholton says:

    i got the same stupid email and I AM NOT EVEN A VERIZON WIRELESS CUSTOMER! smh

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