W.Va. AG warns student about texting scams

Staff Report

CHARLESTON, W.Va. — Attorney General Patrick Morrisey says students should be careful about responding to unsolicited text messages they receive from unknown telephone numbers.

This scam targets young adults by using an unknown phone number to mislead them into responding to text messages.

“This scam preys upon young adults who typically spend a lot more time on their phones texting than other consumers,” Morrisey said. “Students are particularly susceptible to this type of scam at this time of year. As they go off to college, they meet lots of people and can quickly make many new friends. Unfortunately, they can easily think a message from an unknown number is simply from a new classmate, only to find a scammer on the other end of the line.”

Sometimes these messages ask a person to call the number listed. After calling that number, the student may be hit with a hidden fee for placing the call, or they could end up connecting with a person who uses high-pressure tactics to try and get the student’s banking information. Other times, these messages include a link that opens a web site that asks for personal and financial information.

Scammers tend to target numbers completely at random. They are typically able to reach millions of customers with computer programs that send bulk messages using a few simple keystrokes.

The Attorney General’s Office offers students the following tips, should they receive one of these unsolicited messages:

  • Delete it immediately, especially if the message asks you to reply with a code or with personal information. A legitimate company will never send you a text message or an e-mail to ask you for your credit card numbers, bank account information, or Social Security number.
  • Don’t be tempted to click on any links in the text message. These links can take you to spoof sites that can look authentic, but are designed to steal your personal information.
  • Review your cell phone bill for any suspicious, unauthorized charges and immediately report them to your carrier.

“Going off to school is supposed to be a fun and exciting time in a person’s life, and we want to make sure students can enjoy it without falling victim to scammers,” Morrisey said.

If your identity has been compromised or you believe you have been scammed, call the Attorney General’s Consumer Protection Division at 800-368-8808 or the Eastern Panhandle Consumer Protection Office in Martinsburg at 304-267-0239. To file a report online, visit www.wvago.gov.

Morrisey issued this advice as part of his office’s second Back to School Consumer Protection Week. To learn about consumer protection efforts in West Virginia, visit www.ago.wv.gov/consumerprotection.

Staff Report