LANSING – Many people are using the mail to send gifts to loved ones during the holidays. Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel is warning residents about fraudulent smishing text messages purporting to be from the United States Postal Service (USPS) this holiday season.
“Hundreds of millions of packages are shipped each holiday season, and bad actors see that as a prime opportunity to scam you out of your hard-earned money,” Nessel said in a press release. “It is critically important for people to recognize a scam like this and avoid giving out their personal information. Clicking on fraudulent links can lead to identity theft, the installation of malware on your device or it could lead to your contact information being sold to other bad actors who are also looking to take advantage of unsuspecting victims.”
Smishing is when the scammer sends a text message purporting to be from a trusted entity and then entices the victim by claiming they must provide them with a password, account number, debit card or even social security number. Oftentimes, the USPS smishing scam alerts the victim to an alleged delayed package, and then requires a purchase for updates.
In response, Nessel wants to remind residents of ways to protect their phone numbers and information:
- Don’t share your phone number unless you know the person or organization well.
- Don’t assume a text is legitimate because it comes from a familiar phone number or area code. Spammers use caller ID Spoofing to make it appear the text is from a trusted or local source.
- Don’t provide personal or financial information in response to the unsolicited text or at a website linked to the message.
- Don’t click on links in a suspicious text; they could install malware on your device or take you to a site that does the same.
- Don’t reply, even if the message says you can “text STOP” to avoid more messages. A response tells the scammer or spammer your number is active and can be sold to other bad actors.
- Never follow a text’s instructions to push a designated key to opt out of future messages.
This smishing scam is common and may look like the photo to the right. In addition to the sender’s email coming from a public domain instead of the organization’s domain, the suggested link does not match the public facing website for the USPS and there are typos throughout.
Photo: Michigan Department of Attorney General
A library of consumer alerts created by the Department of Attorney General’s Consumer Protection Team is available online and organized by a number of categories.
To file a complaint with the Department of Attorney General, contact:
Consumer Protection Team
P.O. Box 30213
Lansing, MI 48909
Online complaint form