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