INDIANAPOLIS — As drivers look for relief from the high gas prices, scammers are seeing an opportunity.
The Better Business Bureau is warning about fake “gas cards” being sent to your phone. Instead of getting some relief from the pump, victims find themselves facing even more problems.
The scam involves someone sending a link that would enter you into a contest to win free gas. The scammers hope people facing sticker shock at the pump will click on the link without thinking about it.
“Scammers keep up on these trends, and so they know what’s going on in the news, and they know what’s going on in our community. They really try to profit off that,” said Shelbi Felblinger, community outreach coordinator for the BBB Central Indiana.
This is a form of “smishing”, a mashup of short message service (SMS) and phishing. The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) said these types of scams are becoming more commonplace.
People who fall prey to these types of scams may find their personal information being manipulated, which scammers can sell or use in other scams. They may also entice you to download malware to their device.
BBB advocates say just like with any other scam, there are warning signs you can look for. Check to make sure everything is spelled correctly, especially the name of the website or company that’s supposed to be offering the prize. If you end up clicking the link in the text, look at the design of the website. Most official sites look like they were made by professionals.
The best plan of action is just to ignore the message in the first place.
“Some scammers will ask you to text either stop or no to stop receiving future texts. Don’t reply at all,” said Felblinger. “Once you do, this tells the scammer that your phone is actually active, and you may find yourself victim in future scams.”
The FCC said there are some things you can do to avoid becoming a victim of a smishing attempt:
- Never click links, reply to text messages or call numbers you don’t recognize.
- Do not respond, even if the message requests that you “text STOP” to end messages.
- Delete all suspicious texts.
- Make sure your smart device OS and security apps are updated to the latest version.
- Consider installing anti-malware software on your device for added security.
The bottom line is to stop before you engage and avoid the urge to respond. If you think the text is phony, block it and delete the message before reporting the number to the BBB.
If you think you fell victim to smishing, you should contact law enforcement to report the scam. You can also file a complaint with the FCC at no cost.