Smishing is on the Rise.
The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) recently reported that consumer complaints about unwanted texts have nearly tripled since 2019. Some of these are just spam, but many of them are scams — known as “smishing” — and they arrive in various forms, usually trying to alarm you about undelivered packages, unpaid debts or bills, problems with your bank account or credit cards, and even warnings about legal actions against you. Most smishing is designed to harvest personal information, while some might be more directly after your money.
If you believe you’ve received a suspicious text, here are some recommended steps you can take:
- Independently verify any number and its connection with the company in question and call them back only using an official phone number
- Do not respond — even if the message offers you the ability to opt-out by texting “STOP”
- Do not click on any links embedded in the text
- Do not provide any information via text
- Review your phone’s built-in text-blocking settings
- Update any phone, tablet, or smartwatch with the latest operating system and security applications
- Install anti-malware software
- File a complaint with the FCC and forward any unwanted texts to SPAM (7726)
- Delete all suspicious texts
Send Yourself Money? That’s a Big Red Flag
Scammers are always creating new ways to steal your money. One of the recent scams utilizing peer-to-peer payment services is what’s known as the “Pay Yourself Scam.”
The gist of the scam is that someone pretending to be a representative from your bank or credit union tells you that there has been a fraudulent transaction and in order to stop it, you need to send yourself money with Zelle®. That sense of urgency really works in their favor and gets unsuspecting consumers to act immediately.
The best way to avoid this scam is to know what to look for. Here’s how it unfolds:
- It starts with a text message from a scammer that looks like a fraud alert from your bank or credit union. It’s looks real and urgent!
- If you respond to the text message and engage the scammer, you’ll receive a call from a number that may appear to be your bank or credit union.
- The scammer pretends to be calling from your bank or credit union and offers to stop the alleged fraud by directing you to send yourself money with Zelle®.
- In reality, the scammer is tricking you into sending money to their bank account.
How the Scam Works
So how are the scammers diverting money to their account?
When you enroll with Zelle® initially or if you switch your enrolled U.S. mobile number or email address to a different account, your bank sends you a security code to verify your identity. In this scam, the fraudster pretends to be calling from your bank or credit union saying that they need this passcode to authorize your payment to yourself. That should be a big red flag to you. Your bank will NEVER ask you for this security code, nor will they ask you to send money to yourself.
If the scammer gets the one-time passcode, they can link their bank account to your U.S. mobile number or email address. Now the money you thought you were sending to yourself is sent directly to their bank account.
Staying Safe in a World of Scammers
How can you avoid being tricked? Always keep these tips front of mind:
- Never discuss account numbers, PINs, or other personal information with anyone who contacts you, even if they say they are from your bank or credit union.
- If the person claiming a problem with your account needs your account information, hang up and call the bank yourself.
- Don't call the number in a text, email, or voice mail. It will connect you directly with the scammers. Always look up the number online or review the number listed on your debit or credit card.
- Don't click on text message links from people you don't know, even if it’s pretending to be your bank or credit union. These links can be deceiving and direct you to a fraudulent site or expose your device to malware.
Your bank or credit union will never ask you to send money to yourself (or anyone else)!
If you detect suspicious activity regarding Zelle®, hang up and contact us at 816-637-6669 or 816-776-6669 directly.
To learn about other scams and ways to protect yourself, visit
These top 3 phishing scams are full of red flags:
- Text Message: If you receive a text message from someone claiming to be your bank asking you to sign in, or offer up your personal information, it’s a scam. Banks never ask that.
- Email: Watch out for emails that ask you to click on a suspicious link or provide personal information. The sender may claim to be someone from you bank, but it’s a scam. Banks never ask that.
- Phone Call: Would your bank ever call you to verify your account number? No! Banks never ask that. If you’re ever in doubt that the caller is legitimate, just hang up and call the bank directly at a number you trust. Don’t unwrap a scam this holiday season.
For tips and tools on how to keep phishing criminals at bay, including videos, an interactive quiz and more, visit www.BanksNeverAskThat.com. And be sure to share the webpage with your friends