Schuette Releases New Consumer Alert to Warn Residents About New Text Messaging Scams called “Smishing”

Smishing, a blending of the words SMS and phishing, is when scammers send text messages pretending to be from trusted sources

LANSING – Michigan Attorney General Bill Schuette announced his Consumer Protection team has released a new consumer alert on “Smishing.” Smishing is when a scammer sends text messages to consumers appearing to be from a trusted source.

Smishing scams are like phishing scams for emails except they arrive as text messages. The scammer’s goal is for consumers to respond to the texts with personal information or to click on links that install malware.

“Dishonest individuals are always trying to find new ways to obtain our personal information,” said Schuette. “My Consumer Protection team continually works to stay current on the latest scams, so they can make sure Michigan residents are aware of these scams and know how to identify the scams and avoid them.”

With more than 20 billion text messages sent every day in the United States, a growing number of those are from thieves trying to scam consumers. Smartphone users are three times more likely to fall for fake text messages than computer users, therefore text message scams are on the rise.

Common Smishing Scam

A common smishing tactic involves a text warning about a “problem” with one of your accounts and asking for your information to correct it.

In addition, some scammers, will pitch offers that seem too good to be true such as promises of free gifts and trips.

It is important to not respond to these texts, either by clicking on a link or providing information. You may download malware or become an identity theft victim.

The easiest way to avoid being scammed: delete the message.

How to Spot Smishing Scams

It is important to look out for the following:

  • A text message that appears to be your bank and states there is a problem with your account. A phone number is listed for you to call right away;
  • A text message from an unknown sender asking for you to call a number, click on link or respond with personal information;
  • A text message that reads: “REAL ROLEX 90% OFF, click here.”; and
  • A text message that says, “click here,” enter “x,” or reply “stop” to opt out of future messages.

How to Prevent Smishing Scams

  • Don’t respond to any suspicious numbers. Instead once you report it, delete the text and block the number;
  • Don’t share your phone number unless you know the person or organization well;
  • Beware of the fine print in user agreements for products or services that may use your phone number, like mobile apps and free ring-tone offers;
  • NEVER follow a text’s instructions to push a designated key to opt out of future messages; and
  • Report scam texts to the Federal Communications Commission online, by phone 888-225-5322; or by mail: FCC Consumer Complaints, 445 12th Street S.W., Washington D.C. 20554.

What You Need to Know

Neither the State of Michigan nor the federal government will contact you via text message. Federal law makes it illegal to send commercial text messages to a mobile device without the recipient’s permission. This law even applies if you haven’t put your name on a ‘Do-Not-Call-List’. Downloading apps and ringtones on your smartphone put you more at risk for your number to get in the hands of scammers. It is important to read the “terms of agreement” carefully before downloading anything to your device.

REPORT FRAUD

If you are a mobile subscriber with AT&T, T-Mobile, Verizon or Bell you can report spam texts to your carrier by copying the text and forwarding it to 7726 free of charge.

If you cannot use 7226, then consumers can report smishing texts to your service provider and the Federal Communications Commission

Learn more about robocalls, phone scams, and government imposters with our Consumer Education materials, including our Consumer Alerts on Michigan Telemarketing Laws and Telemarketing Fraud.

To report a scam, file a complaint, or get additional information, contact the Michigan Department of Attorney General:

CONSUMER PROTECTION DIVISION

P.O. Box 30213 Lansing, MI 48909

517-373-1140

Fax: 517-241-3771

Toll free: 877-765-8388

Online complaint form

Shelter Dogs to Police Heroes

All dogs are not created equal. Some make great family pets. Others struggle to fit in and wind up at the shelter. But that doesn’t always its mean the end of the road for these canines. With the right training, many of these shelter dogs can be save and, in turn, save lives.

While K9 units typically use either German shepherds of Belgian Malinois for police dogs, there are plenty of other breed that work well on the job. Labrador retrievers, beagles, bloodhounds, pit bulls, and even mixed breed have keen senses and make good police dogs. The key characteristics needed are obedience, focus, and high energy. Also, having a keen sense of smell and sight help their ability to track down missing objects.

A 6-8 week training program is the starting point for many shelter dogs. They may, however, require up to a full year of training before they are ready to be paired with an officer. Dogs that are often overlooked ad family pets may have a dark fate if not for this training program. Now they get a second change at life and have an important purpose.

In some cases, they get a sixth chance at life. This was the case with one shelter dog who was returned to the shelter five times and deemed unadoptable before joining the K9 Police Unit in Rhode Island. Ruby was an eight-month old border collie/Australian shepherd mix with too much untamed energy. One officer saw how he could utilize her high energy level. After six months of training, she was able to handle scent work.

In 2017, Ruby helped track and save a missing teenager who needed medical attention. She became a police hero that day, but her work didn’t end there. She continues to work with the police department and there is a movie about her heroism, titled “Searchdog.”

Other heroic police dog stories include dogs performing CPR, dogs leading children back to safety, detecting explosives, finding flood victims, and the list goes on. The possibilities are endless and there are grants to provide training to the shelter dogs who show promise.

The KP dog training programs save the lives of shelter dogs, who in turn save the lives of people whiel in the line of duty. The bonus is that it saves the police department money in the process. Specialty bred K9 dogs can run as high as $25,000. But a shelter dogs costs around $200 and can be ready for the job after roughly a year of training.

Protect Yourself from Police Phone Scams

Police phone scams are on the rise. Individuals and groups pretend to be police officers and prey upon innocent citizens, especially the elderly. There are a variety of police scams out there to look out for. It’s important to know what they are and how to react so you can protect yourself.

 

  1. Warrant for your arrest. A popular police phone scam right now is when someone calls, pretending to be a police officer, and informs you that there is a warrant out for your arrest. They may claim is due to unpaid taxes or some other offense. These threatening calls usually tries to lure people into meeting them in a public place to deliver thousands of dollars to stay out of jail. The truth is this is just a scam. It can be alarming at first and you may fear being in trouble, but the police will never call you to obtain funds or deliver the news of a warrant or arrest and they will never meet you at a random location to accept cash. Keep in mind that if a warrant were out for your arrest, you would be delivered paperwork by a uniformed police officer. Protect yourself against this fraud and do not meet anyone or give anyone money if they demand it in this manner.
  2. Outstanding debts. If you do owe an outstanding debt, the police will not call to collect the money. Don’t fall for this police scam. When an individual owes money to a company, the company would file a lawsuit as a last resort to collect the money and you would be served notice by mail or in person by a process server. You would receive official court documents, not a threatening phone call.
  3. The grandparent call. Another popular police scam is when a fake call is placed to a grandparent stating that the grandchild is in trouble and needs money posted for bail. Again, these scammers are preying on the elderly.
  4. Police foundation scam. Another phone scam is when a caller poses as a representative for the police foundation. They request a donation over the phone in a high pressure sales pitch. In general, the police foundation doesn’t solicit donations by phone. When in doubt, request that the caller sends you a request in writing and do your research before making any type of monetary donation. They may even send a letter that looks official, but its important to look for key elements like the letterhead, where the letter was mailed from, if there is a nonprofit number, and if it mentions a tax deduction for the donation.

The best way to protect yourself from these police scams that are on the rise is to be skeptical, hang up the phone, never give out personal information, never give credit card numbers, and do not meet them in a public place to withdraw funds or give them gift cards. Police officers would never make such phone calls or accepts funds in this way.

Monument for Fallen Michigan Officers Finally Gets Funding

Funding has finally been received to erect the monument for fallen Michigan officers. The Michigan Law Enforcement Officers Memorial Monument (MLEOM) is set to go up in Lansing, MI as a way to remember the officers who have lost their lives in the line of duty.

Purpose for the Michigan Fallen Officers Monument

Every day officers put their lives on the line by serving their communities. They are heroes dedicated to public safety. This monument would serve as a way to remember, honor, and celebrate the lives of the officers who died while protecting Michigan’s citizens.

The Design of the Lansing Monument for Fallen Michigan Officers

A commission was formed for the MLEOM to oversee funding, the design of the monument, and its construction. The commission is made up of four family members of fallen officers, a police chaplain, an Attorney General representative and a State Treasurer representative.

Designed by Ann Arbor architect David Miling, the monument will consist of 10 4X8 panels, or “sentinels,” featuring the engraved names of the more than 600 fallen officers. It will be lit up from the ground. Designed to promote the feeling of standing with the fallen officers, it will not overshadow the Veteran’s Memorial.

The site of the MLEOM was dedicated on October 18, 2006 by Governor Jennifer Granholm and Senator John Kerry. It will be built at the corner of Allegan Street and Butler Boulevard, just south of the Vietnam Memorial and close to the State Capital Building in Lansing,

Funding for The Michigan Law Enforcement Officers Memorial Monument

A fund to match donations up to $2 million dollars, The MLEOM was created by public Act 177 of 20024. Governor Rick Snyder signed law 2014 PA 252 in which the state offered a matching grant through October 2018, matching donations up to $2 million.

Michigan lawmakers have finally secured the rest of the funds needed to move ahead with this project. The idea has been in the making since 2004, but was put on the back burner due to the recession and other issues raising the funds. However, construction for the long-awaited $1.2 million memorial monument  project won’t likely start until the fall of 2019.