Attorney General Fox Warns of Circulating Scam Texts

Attorney General Tim Fox and his Office of Consumer Protection (OCP) at the Montana Department of Justice want to alert Montanans to recent reports of scam text messages that are designed to appear to be sent by banks, credit card companies, or other financial institutions circulating among 406 area code phone numbers.  Attorney General Fox encourages all Montana consumers to learn the telltale signs of these types of scams, and to utilize OCP’s easy-to-use online reporting forms to alert scam investigators.  The online reporting system allows OCP to watch for trends in scams and to alert the public more quickly.

These fraudulent text messages usually contain a link to a website that may look legitimate, and may even have the financial institution’s name in the web address.  However, clicking on the link may install damaging software on a device, or redirect to a website that asks the consumer to ‘confirm’ his or her identity by providing personal information such as a name, bank account number, credit card number, online banking user ID and password, and more.

“Scammers are always looking for the next way to steal information, whether it’s through a new con or by exploiting the way people communicate – like through text messaging,”  said Attorney General Tim Fox.  “That’s why it’s important to try to stay one step ahead of the latest frauds by staying knowledgeable.  One way for people to stay abreast of the newest scams is by signing up for free email Consumer Alerts through my Office of Consumer Protection.”

A general rule of thumb for consumers to follow in order to protect themselves from identity theft scams is to never provide personal or financial information via a phone call, email or text message exchange that the consumer did not initiate.  Instead, he or she should find a statement from the financial institution that claims to be contacting him or her and call the number or visit the web address listed on the bill.  This way, Montana consumers can be sure they are using legitimate contact information for the business, instead of potentially falling prey to a scammer.

The Federal Trade Commission recommends these additional tips for dealing with scam and spam text messages:

• Don’t reply to the text and don’t click on links provided in the message.

• Delete any text messages that ask you to confirm or provide personal information.  Legitimate companies don’t ask for information like your account numbers or passwords by email or text.

• Report these text messages to your wireless carrier. Forward the original message to 7726 (SPAM) free of charge for subscribers of some wireless companies, including AT&T, T-Mobile, Verizon, and Sprint.

• Place your cell phone number on the National Do Not Call Registry.

• Review your cell phone bill for unauthorized charges, and report them to your carrier.

NEXT STEPS:  To report an attempted scam, use OCP’s convenient online reporting form here.  The Federal Trade Commission and the Federal Communications Commission both accept complaints about scam and spam text messages, too.  You can also call to speak with one of our investigators at (800) 481-6896 or (406) 444-4500, visit OCP’s homepage at https://dojmt.gov/consumer/, or call your local law enforcement agency.

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