Scammers are texting your cellphone – in an attempt to steal your money!

Police say there’s been a surge in smishing scams. Those are text messages criminals send that claim you won a prize. But really it’s one big scam. And lots of people fall for it because they assume there’s no way a scammer could ever get their hands on their private number. But with just a few pennies, crooks can buy thousands of phone numbers at a time from identity thieves.

A common smish text says something like: “Congratulations, you won a $1-thousand dollar gift card from Target!” To get it, you have to click on a link to a website and answer harmless-sounding questions to “confirm your identity." But the questions are actually designed to get you to reveal your personal information so they can steal your identity, like your birthday, Social Security Number, and even your credit card info - which thieves claim they need to “cover a small shipping charge.”

But the truth is there is no gift card! And the thief instead runs up credit charges in your name, drains your bank account, or sells your identity on the black market.

So, here are tips from the Better Business Bureau to help you avoid falling for a smish text:

  • Keep in mind that retailers almost never give away gift cards or products for free. So if you receive a text like this, look up the number of the retailer online. And call their customer service department directly to vet if it’s legit or not.

  • Another sign of a smish: They ask for your credit card or banking info. Scam alert! A retailer would never give you a free prize but then make you pay to receive it. So, report the scammer’s phone number to the Better Business Bureau immediately.