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A Text Message Mess


Let me set the scene: your friend John is rushing to get his daughter from school and his son to the soccer field, and he still needs to stop at the grocery store because there’s nothing in the fridge. In the midst of this everyday madness, he gets a text message from Google with a verification code. He thinks, “That’s weird. Maybe I should log in to my email and see what’s going on.”

Before he has a chance, he gets another message. It says:

Google has detected unusual activity on your account. Please reply with the verification code sent to your mobile device to stop unauthorized activity.  

What should John do?

It’s quite possible that he might reply with the code — especially while he’s distracted, and worried that he might lose access to his email. Unfortunately, if he sends the code, he’ll be giving a hacker access to his email account.

Here’s what happened behind the scenes:

  1. A hacker who has John’s email address and mobile number went to the email login screen, clicked “Forgot Password,” and asked for a verification code via text message.
  2. John got the verification code on his phone.
  3. The hacker — pretending to be John’s email provider — sent him a text message and asked for the code.
  4. John forwarded the code to the hacker, and the hacker had everything he needed to complete the login process.

The hacker could gather a lot of information about John while snooping through his email. He also could change John’s settings, so future emails sent to John are forwarded to the hacker. It could be a long time before John notices this change.

So, what can you do?

Don’t send verification codes to anyone via text or email. Use these codes only on the login page. And if you get a verification code that you didn’t request, let your provider know about it. That could be a sign that someone is tampering with your account.

If you suspect that someone has hacked into your email, here’s what to do: (video)

For more online/internet tips access

SECURITY BULLETIN - Broadcast Text Phishing


Fraudulent text messages are being sent to consumers in an effort to steal personally identifiable information. Financial institutions have reported an increased volume in these attacks since May 22, 2014 -- although no reports have been made identifying South Bay Credit Union as a target. Mass text broadcasts are commonly used by fraudsters to reach large audiences of potential victims. This scam is quite common and often operates simultaneously in multiple states. 
  •  Automated texts are being broadcast that warn consumers to call certain numbers to reactivate their payment cards.
  • A recent text example: "Federal Credit Union ALERT: Your CheckCard has been temporarily LOCKED. Please call Card Services line (407) 574-2992". 
  • Text messages do not reference a particular issuing brand but they may vaguely refer to a credit union or bank.  
  • Additional originating text numbers for this recent scam include: 786-300-2335 and 971-208-9936. All numbers referenced in this Alert Bulletin have been disbanded. New originating numbers will most likely be created and used in the future.  
  • Text messages may also originate from Jamaican area code 876 which is easily confused by consumers with a toll free number.
  • Never call a potentially fraudulent number. Law enforcement and local communication companies may be in the middle of an investigation that will be compromised if the fraudsters become suspicious. 
  • Instruct your customer service staff to collect as many details as possible if they speak with a customer who is reporting an incident. Full telephone numbers including area codes are essential for any telephony scam investigation. 
  • Be aware that a series of numbers are often involved in telephony scams. This scam may not be entirely limited to the number(s) referenced above

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