Tampa Bay banks warn of 'text phishing' - WFLA News Channel 8

Tampa Bay banks warn of 'text phishing'

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Reports of "text phishing" have some banks on alert in the Tampa Bay area.

You may have received one of these suspicious text messages yourself. They usually say that your ATM debit card has been flagged and tell you to call a telephone number.

Some people here in the Tampa Bay area recently received the following messages:

"SUNCOAST message. Your ATM debit card has been flagged. Call activation center at ...."

"This is a sms from F.C.U. Your ATM card debit has been flagged. Contact activation services at .... "

We checked with Suncoast Credit Union to see if they've received reports about suspicious text messages.

"We do have information that there is a broad text phishing expedition taking place in our market affecting many organizations. So everyone is on alert," said Suncoast Credit Union Spokesperson Lisa Brock of Brock Communications.

Brock says a small number of Suncoast customers have been impacted by the phishing expedition. Suncoast has more than 500,000 members, but had only received 18 calls about text phishing cases on Wednesday.

A GTE Financial spokesperson says only one customer had recently reported receiving a similar text. They're investigating to determine the scope of the incident and have notified their members of the possible scam.

Staff at GTE Financial has seen these types of scams in the past.

"They are a common ploy to try and gain personal information to fraudulently access accounts and commit identity theft," said Gillian Moore of GTE Financial.

Moore says if people wind up calling the phone numbers given in the text messages, the person on the other end of the line will try to get personal information like a debit or credit card number, the Personal Identification Number (PIN) and any other information they would need to access a person's financial information.

She offered the following safety tips for people who receive phishing texts on their cell phones:

1) Do not respond to the text messages.

2) Contact your financial institution to see if the text is legitimate.

3) Remember that financial institutions do not usually reach out to their members by sending text messages, especially when it comes to debit and credit card issues.

4) If you responded to a text message and divulged any personal information, you should contact your financial institution immediately.

Text phishing is not the only way thieves can steal your identity. There are many other tactics they use. To learn more, see the slideshow above.

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