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Mo. AG Koster warns of 'smishing' scam targeting smart phones

(via Flickr/denharsh)

The Missouri Attorney General’s office is warning the public of a new scam that’s targeting smartphone and cellphone users.

The scam is known as "smishing," and it involves text messages telling recipients that they’ve won prizes or gift cards from big-name retailers such as Wal-Mart or Costco and instructs them to claim them by clicking on a link.  Attorney General Chris Koster(D) says clicking the link will infect phones with malware that gives identity thieves access to personal information.

“When you open the attachment, it has the capacity to infect your telephone and actually suck out information, like your Social Security number or other pass codes, that could lead to the demise of your personal credit records," Koster said.

For now, Koster recommends deleting any text messages with links unless the recipient knows and trusts the sender.  They can also ask credit reporting agencies to place security freezes on their credit reports.

“We’ve had a number of complaints here at the Attorney General’s office, so I know that it’s more than a just handful of Missourians that are experiencing it," Koster said.  "Frankly, it strikes me as such a dangerous aspect of technology, we’ve got to find some way to combat it.”

Cellphone and smartphone users wanting more information can call the Attorney General's consumer hotline at 1-800-392-8222, or visit ago.mo.govon the web.

Marshal was a political reporter for St. Louis Public Radio until 2018.