Texting scam hits thousands on Christmas Day

9:18 AM, Dec 27, 2013   |    comments
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SAVANNAH, Ga. -- A warning about a Christmas Day text message scam: the text tells the victim that their account has been frozen. But police say it's a con.

There's no way to know just how widespread they are, but it seems they went out all over Georgia.  The texts come from a number with a 706 area code. That covers extreme North Georgia, Athens, Augusta and the Columbus areas. Even the Effingham Sheriff's Department says they alone have had almost 100 reports filed by Thursday evening, the day after the attacks launched on Christmas Day.

"I've never seen anything like this, of this magnitude. Not one that has gone out to as many people as it has.  This has probably affected thousands of people in our area," said David Ehsanipoor, spokesman for the Effingham Sheriff's Department.

The text message reads: "Achieve Account Frozen." It provides a phone number for you to call.

"Obviously someone has gotten a hold of your cell phone numbers and they have something set up with an automated system where they're going to try to steal your identity if not the money from your bank account," Ehsanipoor said.

Effingham Sheriff's Deputies believe they mostly target phones with the carrier "Verizon Wireless."

"As a matter of fact, lots of our investigators, deputies, and even the sheriff himself, have gotten these text messages and most of them are on Verizon phones," he said.

The text message gives you a number to call. And if you do, it takes you to an automated message that asks for your personal account information. But authorities caught on, so now all you'll hear is a message saying, "This is a message from the Federal Trade Commission. The phone number you have just called has been disconnected because it may be involved in a scam."

"A lot of times it's not a local thing. We believe it's probably coming from somewhere national or international. And it goes way above our heads," Ehsanipoor said.

It's important to remember that if your account has been compromised, banks generally won't text you about it. So if you receive a text message like this, or you have any other concerns about your account, just contact your bank directly.

A person contacted News 3 on Facebook and said they responded with a text message to say "Stop." They wanted to know if that was a mistake. Scammers can only get you if you call and give them your personal information.

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(WSAV, Savannah)

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