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Gillette auto body shop owner warns customers about text scam

GILLETTE, Wyo. — An owner of Hillcrest Auto Body said this morning that her company in Gillette was notified of a scam text message that falsely tells customers they have appointments at the shop.

Jacklyn Stephenson, one of the shop’s owners, said the text message came from a phone number with a 307 area code. She said staff told the customer to delete and block the number.

According to the FBI, criminals who are spoofing disguise an email address, sender name, phone number of website URL with minor changes to try to convince a victim that they’re communicating with a trusted source, like a company they’ve done business with or a family member. It can lead to downloading malicious software, money or sensitive personal information.

In phishing scams, criminals try to imitate legitimate businesses and convince individuals to reply to the email or visit a website that might look familiar to the customer. That website, however, is fake and used to steal information. Variations include vishing, which is over the phone, voicemail or voice over Internet Protocol calls; smishing, via text messages; and pharming, or when malicious code’s installed on a computer to redirect the customer to fake websites.

Anyone who clicks on a phishing link can take the following steps to minimize damage, according to an AgingCare article:

  • Disconnect from the internet
  • Back up data
  • Scan for malware
  • Change credentials for all online accounts, from shopping to emails
  • Set up a fraud alert

The FBI gives consumers several tips to protect themselves from scams:

Remember that companies generally don’t contact you to ask for your username or password.

Don’t click on anything in an unsolicited email or text message. Look up the company’s phone number on your own (don’t use the one a potential scammer is providing), and call the company to ask if the request is legitimate.

Carefully examine the email address, URL, and spelling used in any correspondence. Scammers use slight differences to trick your eye and gain your trust.

Be careful what you download. Never open an email attachment from someone you don’t know and be wary of email attachments forwarded to you.

Set up two-factor (or multi-factor) authentication on any account that allows it, and never disable it.

Be careful with what information you share online or on social media. By openly sharing things like pet names, schools you attended, family members, and your birthday, you can give a scammer all the information they need to guess your password or answer your security questions.

To report spoofing or phishing attempts—or to report that you’ve been a victim—file a complaint with the FBI’s Internet Crime Complaint Center.

The FBI also recommends searching online for the contact information for the individual or business supposedly behind the offer, as other people may have posted information about the scammer. Recipients of unsolicited calls, mailings and door-to-door services offers should avoid acting quickly and instead call police if they believe they’re in danger, the FBI post said.

Other resources include the following: