- Scammers send realistic-looking text messages in hopes that you’ll click a link or call a number that allows them to get personal or account information or download malware onto your device.
- Be skeptical; look carefully for clues before automatically replying, calling, or clicking.
- If you accidentally respond to a fraudulent text message, don’t delay. Take immediate steps to protect your accounts.
Ping, ping, ping… be careful, because those text message alerts allegedly from your credit union or bank may not be legitimate.
While it can be helpful to get a text message alerting you to potential problems with your credit card or checking account, stay vigilent—these types of communications are often imitated by scammers.
Technically, it’s against the law for people and companies to send you unwanted text messages. That doesn’t mean it doesn’t happen. In fact, scammers are getting more sophisticated every day, even using company logos to help their message appear legitimate. It just means you need to be extra cautious before replying to a text message.
First, what is a fraudulent text message?
A spam or scam text message is sent to you in hopes that you’ll do something after reading it—click on a link or call a number listed in the message itself. The scammer is trying to get personal or account information from you, or they’re trying to get you to click on a link that will load malware onto your device.
How to identify fraudulent texts
Fake text messages usually carry a few ‘fraud clues’ that let you know they may not be the real deal. Here are a few things to look for:
- The sender wants you to do something, like click or call their number.
- The message is urgent.
- They want you to verify personal information, like your PIN or password.
- There are typos or links with unusual URLs.
- It refers to your account by the wrong name, like Platinum or Ultra.
- The message references a transaction you didn’t make, in hopes that you immediately call or text to ‘fix the error.’
Here are some real-life examples of fraudulent texts sent to members about Alaska USA. See if you can spot the fraud clues in each.
Security alert or message threatening to lock the account unless you click their link:
Message sent to a group:
Message demanding immediate attention, asking you to change or verify your PIN or password:
Message asking you to confirm a fake transaction or verify a charge:
Mysterious message, asking you to click a link to learn more:
What to do if you receive a fraudulent text
The key here is to be skeptical. Even if you think the text is legitimate, don’t automatically reply to the text itself. And never, ever click on a link or automatically call the number listed. Instead, call your credit union or bank at a legitimate phone number, like the number on the back of your actual credit or debit card.
And don’t reply ‘STOP’ in hopes that the spammer ‘unsubscribes you.’ When you reply, you’ve just confirmed to the spammer that they’ve reached a real person, and they’ll likely keep trying. Instead, use your phone to block the number itself. The FTC has helpful instructions on how to filter and block messages on iPhone and on Android.
How should you report a fraudulent text?
Once you’ve made the good decision to not respond to a fake text message, take a quick minute to report it. The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) has an easy process set up for reporting suspicious text messages. You can:
- Forward the message to SPAM (7726).
- Report it on the FTC’s website: https://reportfraud.ftc.gov.
- Report it as Spam using your text messaging app.
Some carriers also have ways you can report fraudulent text messages to them. You can typically find this information on your carrier’s website.
How to report a fraudulent text to Alaska USA
Remember: Alaska USA will never contact you by text to ask for login or personal information, including your online banking passwords or your debit card number, PIN, or CVV.
Accidents happen, though, and if you mistakenly responded to a fraudulent text targeting your Alaska USA account or credit card, here’s what to do:
- Don’t hide it out of embarrassment. As soon as you realize what’s happened, take immediate action.
- Grab a screen shot of the fraudulent text and report the scammer (see above).
- Call Alaska USA at 800-525-9094 and tell us what happened. Depending on the situation, we may cancel and replace your credit card or take other measures to protect your accounts with us. Forward the text to firstname.lastname@example.org so we have as much information as possible to help us protect your accounts and identity.
- Change your online banking passwords and consider placing a credit freeze to ‘lock’ your credit.
One of our top priorities at Alaska USA is to help protect you and your account information from scammers. So, before you automatically respond to that text message, give it a careful look and a second thought. Spot the fake and keep your money safe!