Apparently 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 MyVerizon.com 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 MyVerizon.com 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.