Phishing and the American Express Text Scam: What to Do If It Happens to Your Customers
Do your customers frequently shop using American Express? If so, they may be the next target of a serious smishing attack. This text messaging attack states that there has been fraudulent activity identified on the user's account. From there, recipients are prompted to activate an HTML form and enter sensitive account information, including a security pin, online account credentials, card number, and more.
It's necessary to keep in mind that companies, especially those involved in finance, will never request this kind of information by using an attached form or hyperlink.
Unfortunately, once the account information has been entered, it's too late. This exact attack scammed one recipient out of $3.88 and while that might not seem like a lot of money, it was a major blow to the account holder's peace of mind.
After hearing about this text message scam, if you use text messaging to reach customers, recipients might approach your business with a bit of skepticism – is text message marketing really all that it's cracked up to be and can they trust that you won't use it for nefarious reasons? To keep their trust, stay up-to-date on the latest text message marketing best practices and keep tabs on the signs of a text scam.
Phishing and the American Express Text Scam:
Unfortunately, phishing scammers have repeatedly targeted American Express customers in recent years. These messages often look something like this:
If you or your customers have ever received a message like this, there are a few steps that you need to take immediately to safeguard sensitive, personal information:
1. Avoid Clicking on Links
The most prevalent phishing scams almost always ask recipients to click on a hyperlink. In most cases, recipients are then directed to a fraudulent form page.
From there, recipients are asked to provide sensitive information (account number, social security number, financial information) to access the account and "resolve" account issues. Unfortunately, after this information is entered, it's too late.
As a best practice, never click on any hyperlinks sent via text from unknown numbers. Even if you recognize the sender, always question the legitimacy of hyperlinks. In this scenario, it's a good idea to call American Express customer support directly just to confirm.
2. Don't Respond
Next, avoid responding to these text scams. According to Joseph Steinberg, CEO at SecureMySocial, "Criminals sending mass text messages learn from such responses that they have reached a real phone and are likely to send you phishing emails, spam, and other undesired communications."
If you suspect that the text message may be legitimate, ask for the sender to call you directly. Again, never supply any sensitive information via text message.
3. Delete the Message From Your Phone
Next, delete the fake text message from your phone altogether. This will prevent you from accidentally engaging with fraudsters. IOS and Android devices offer permanent solutions to block these messages entirely.
4. Report to the Federal Trade Commission
Finally, report all fraudulent text messages to the Federal Communications Commission. Recently, the FCC adopted new rules to ban malicious caller identification spoofing of text messages and foreign calls.
Safeguard Your Personal Information
Unfortunately, text messaging scams have become commonplace in recent years. However, following the aforementioned steps will help safeguard your personal or sensitive information.
The good news is that there are far more text messengers users texting for good and not bad. In fact, we've helped thousands of industry-leading enterprises, businesses, nonprofits, and organizations to leverage the power of business texting messaging to create more engaging and intuitive communications with prospects, customers, members, and others. For many consumers, mobile phones and texting are ubiquitous. There is no easier way to reach your target audience!
If you're just getting started with text message marketing, we recommend downloading this free guide: The 9-Step Roadmap to Mastering Text Message Marketing. In this guide, we show you the nine steps all successful text marketers take when they are just getting started.
Photo: Getty Images/Rawpixel