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El Paso FBI warns of new scam called ‘SMiShing’ that targets smartphones


EL PASO, Texas — With the evolution from emails to phone calls and now text messages, scams come in all forms and banking officials want to make sure you don’t become a victim.

A form of cyber fraud called “SMiShing” short for “short message service” phishing cost victims across America just over $54 million in 2020, according to the FBI’s Internet Crime Complaint Center report.

“It’s a worldwide problem, it is happening everyday, including here in El Paso,” said Jeanette Harper, a spokeswoman for the FBI’s El Paso office.

She said the scams can lead to giving out your personal information and being at risk of identity theft.

“Identity theft can cost if you don’t capture it right away. It can cost individuals thousands and thousands of dollars,” explained Harper.

Although text messages from banks are not uncommon, Amanda Williams, vice president of payment and remote services at GECU said “those (legitimate) text messages will never require personal information to be provided back. It will never ask for a one time passcode, it’s just going to ask you to validate the transaction.”

She said when in doubt, the best way to catch suspicious activity is to frequently monitor your account.

“That’s the best thing. If it doesn’t seem right, more than likely its fraud. Know that financial institutions, again, will never ask you for your personal information. It’s best to never give out one time pass codes, delete text messages that you may receive and just educate yourself.”

Harper adds that you should always call your financial institution if you suspect that a text message is not real.

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