How Text Scammers Are Targeting Your Parents

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A recent text scam is targeting parents and involves a desperate plea for help from a child in hospital after a serious car accident. One variation of the scam describes the accident in graphic detail:

Mum i did try and phone from some else phone signal is really bad, there has been a terrible car accident. I’m in the ICU ward in hospital my phone ain’t switching on and needs charging.
I’m on this mobile number please make sure you reply to this number, my friend didn’t make it he died before we got to hospital and his sister’s fighting for her life. Mum i had my seatbelt on, i’ve got a head injury but i’m ok.
Going into Xray to be seen, please make sure you message me back and don’t phone cause mobile phones aren’t allowed here so please text in case I’m in there.
I will go outside and phone you mum its really bad i need you to do me favour before it’s too late, as soon as you get my text please reply by text i need you to do me a favour mum, time is running out and i need you to do something mum

After a concerned parent responds to the messages the scammers ask for electronic voucher codes or money transfers.

Text message scammers will use despicable tactics like these to take advantage of victims who are desperate to help their loved ones, but there are some things you can do to help your parents avoid becoming victims themselves.

Make them Aware of text message scams

The best way to help others avoid text message scams is to make them aware of the methods that professional scammers are using. Whether it's fake bank account suspension notices, scam utility refund offers, or phoney threats from government tax agencies, it's important to be aware of the ways scammers are trying to trick you out of your money.

The SMSBarrier Facebook page and SMSBarrier blog post regular updates on the latest text message scams that are being used around the world.

Update their phone sOftware

Doing software updates on your phone can be annoying but it can make big difference. A typical software update can contain dozens of patches for security holes in the operating system which are sometimes used as part of text message scams. Apple's iOS 11 update contained fixes for 38 security issues discovered by security researchers.

Scams that include links to web content are particularly dangerous when using outdated phone software so make sure your parents' phones are up to date.

Install a Text Message Spam Blocker

A text message spam blocker like SMSBarrier uses advanced machine learning techniques to automatically identify scam text messages and filter them into the junk folder of your Messages app. This helps make it clear that the message should not be trusted and could help your parents avoid costly mistakes. Try it out today or give it as a gift on the App Store.

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SMSBarrier

Protect yourself from unwanted SMS spam and scams.

 

 

Avoid This Scam: Your Bank Account Has Been Temporarily Suspended

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A frequent approach used by text message scammers is to send a message that claims your bank account has been suspended or disabled for security purposes. Here is an example message that impersonates the Bank of Montreal (BMO), a Canadian Bank.

 
 A scam test message:  Your BMO account has been temporarily suspended for safety. Please login to reactivate.

A scam test message: Your BMO account has been temporarily suspended for safety. Please login to reactivate.

 

It can be difficult to determine if a message like this is legitimate or not. For a professional scammer it is easy to create a link that will appear as though it is pointing to an official banking website, especially when only the first portion of the link address is displayed in the text message bubble.

If the recipient opens the link in the message, they are brought to a webpage that is styled nearly identically to the official bank mobile login. On the left is the scammer's link, the right is the official bank mobile login.

Scammers will design their webpages (left) to look nearly identical to official bank login pages (right).

Entering a card number and password on the scammer's login will immediately give them access to your bank account and they will begin transferring funds out of your account and into their own.

It is easy to be fooled by text message scams like these but you can protect yourself by following these steps:

Don't open links in Messages from strangers

If you are concerned your bank account has been suspended or disabled, contact your bank directly using the number on the back of your banking card, but never open the link included in the text message.

Verify the domain name in your web browser

When you're logging in to your bank account it's important to check the location bar of your web browser. It should show a green lock and the name of your bank to indicate that the connection is secure and that you can sign in normally. Scam websites often don't include the lock icon and will usually not show the name of your bank in the address bar.

 
 Check the location bar in your browser before logging in to your bank.

Check the location bar in your browser before logging in to your bank.

 

Use an SMS spam blocker

If you use an iPhone you can install an SMS spam blocker like SMSBarrier that will automatically identify scam text messages and filter them into the junk folder of your Messages app.

Text message scams are becoming increasingly sophisticated and harder to avoid but you can take steps to protect yourself and family from becoming victims.

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SMSBarrier

Protect yourself from unwanted SMS spam and scams.

If you know anyone that might be at risk of being tricked by a scam like this, please share this post with them.