Rotten phish: Scams travel by text messages, too

smile, you son of a b!!!!
This online phish is predatory, but it’s not that smart. Still …

Another day, another scam.

I’ve been getting text  messages from some outfit called Contact Achieve, and when I called back I picked up some real bad smell.

It smelled like rotten phish.

It’s from some company that calls itself Achieve, and according to the Federal Trade Commission it’s pure scam. But I’m getting ahead of myself here.

On Jan. 18 I received a text from Achieve Card. Two texts that day, one at 6:51 pm and another five minutes later. Actually had at least one text before that but I chose to ignore it.

But in that pair of texts I was given a number (601-633-0010) to call. So I did, and caught a recording. Upshot was that they were the Achieve Card help desk, and my prepaid Visa debit card had limited security access due to a security error. Then they gave me  the first few digits of my card number and wanted me to punch it in on the keypad.

Uhh, no thanks. I may have been born in the dark, but it wasn’t last night.

So I wrote the information down and called that recording again to make sure I had it right. Hey, if you’re after a story you want to make sure you have it right.

A couple of red flags right away. The biggest is that I don’t have a prepaid Visa card. I do have a Visa debit card that’s attached to my bank account, but the partial number didn’t match.

I do have a prepaid debit card (which I use for a couple of jobs that pay cash), but it’s an American Express and the numbers still don’t match.

Plus I’ve never heard of that company.

Not only are they crooked, but they’re idiots.

Listen, it’s not unlike some emails I got from some outfit claiming to be PayPal. Except they kept using email addresses that are not attached to my PayPal account. I related the whole sordid tale here, and it’s worth your while to check that one out. It’s a million laughs unless you fell for it.

Let’s bring this thing forward, shall we? Just a few minutes ago (I wrote this a little after 5 pm Jan. 21) I got another text message. This one was also from Achieve, and according to my readout the text message went out at 9:18 p.m. on Jan. 17. So it must have gone into some queue, to be released at the most inopportune time.

Just because I feel like making trouble (who, me?) I tried their callback number. That’s 832-984-9427 in case you’re interested) and got a different recording. From the Federal Trade Commission, no less. Maybe it was and maybe it wasn’t, but the message was quite interesting nonetheless.

According to that recording, that callback number has been disconnected because the FTC divined that it was a scam, and a number of folks got emails and text messages in the so-called company’s trolling efforts.

They can shut it down? How interesting.

The recording went on to explain that it was an attempt at phishing, sending out bogus texts or email to talk you into giving up your valuable  banking information so they can steal your identity. Their advice: Don’t do it.

Well, duh.

In addition I was referred to a website, onguardonline.gov, which is supposed to be an FTC site on dealing with scams. I checked it and it looks pretty legit to me, enough for me to subscribe to the RSS feed.

Just for gits and shiggles I tried that first Achieve number again and got a fast busy signal. So apparently that’s been shut down too.

So scratch one scammer. But they’re like cockroaches. Kill one and a thousand more come to its funeral.

Hey, you know the deal. Don’t give out your bank card numbers online or over the phone unless you initiated the call, and even then crank up your BS detector as high as it will go. I also have some other precautions, which I listed here. Check that out while you’re at the computer reading this. That in itself is worth the price of admission.

Do I expect people to wise up?

No way. A few might if they’ve been burned often enough or if that aforementioned BS detector is fully functional. But hey, y’all be careful out there.

In the meantime, enjoy your computer. Have fun checking out Facebook, Buzzfeed and those cat videos. Feel free to read your news online (including this blog). Buy books from Amzon (including mine, heh-heh) Do your shopping online. Use the Internet to make a living. Use the online tools to run several aspects of your life by remote control (like my own use of online banking). It’s safer than it once was, it’s convenient, it’s a Godsend.

But again, be careful.

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What say you? Have you run across this Achieve outfit? How about that PayPal email scam? Any other stories? Please share in the comments, and don’t spare me any of the gory details.