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Attorney General Chris Koster warned Missourians today about recent activity by identity thieves. The thieves are now trying to steal information from cell phone users by offering fake prizes like Walmart or Costco gift cards through text messages. KSMU’s Rebekah Clark files this report.
According to Koster, these scam text messages ask the consumer to click on a link and claim a prize, much like a spam email message. Unfortunately, if the person clicks on the link, his or her cell phone is automatically infected with malware that gives identity thieves access to personal information, like social security numbers or credit information. The term for this type of scamming is called “smishing”.
“We’re getting a lot of complaints from around the state that these type of text messages that can insert malware either into your computer or into your cell phone, are cropping up in communities all over the state of Missouri. We thought it was important to get a consumer alert out so that people know not to open links that are attached to email messages unless you are familiar with the person that is sending you that link.”
Koster says if any consumers are ever in doubt as to whether to open a link, they should just delete it. He says if anyone has already opened a link and thinks they are now a victim of this scam, he suggests you put a security freeze on the account.
“One of the things we’re recommending is getting in touch with the three credit rating agencies and telling them you think that your personal information has been compromised and to put a block on the use of that information to obtain credit for some period of time.”
He says Missouri law allows residents to notify credit reporting agencies not to give any business or person your credit information unless authorized. If you have a freeze on your account, thieves who steal your information will not be able to open any line of credit in your name.
There is a $5 fee to set up a security freeze. Anyone who has already been a victim of identity theft does not have to pay the fee.
For links to those credit reporting agencies, you can visit KSMU.org.
For KSMU News, I’m Rebekah Clark.
To place a freeze on your report, contact each credit agency: