Is that “Irma” related text from your bank real?


(WSPA) -In the last 24 hours we’ve heard from a number of you about text messages related to Hurricane Irma.

They come from what appear to be companies like banks or your insurance provider.

Some offer help, others warn about your debit card. All of them have links.

So 7News looked into whether they’re legitimate.

Ruth in Spartanburg (who preferred not to use her last name), was very skeptical when she got a recent text from her bank.

It sounded just like a USAA text this 7News reporter got saying “we see you may be in the path of Hurricane Irma.” There’s a link for help.

“My first reaction was bless their hearts, they care. And I wanted to send a text message saying thank you. But then I got thinking about it. They wouldn’t do that. It’s a scam,” she said.

USAA told 7news it is indeed real. But Ruth is wise to be skeptical. There are reports of scam texts impersonating trusted banks, claiming hurricane power outages may hinder debit card access, and a link for help.

“And so the scam artists know they might catch you off guard, and that your really concerned if you’re out shopping that you might need access to your debit card so the likelihood that you might just respond and then after the fact think, oh that could have been a scam, that happens,” said Julie Pennoyer the Branch Manager with SC Telco Federal Credit Union in Spartanburg.

Anytime you get a text with a link in it, watch out for look-alike URLs. Just because it may say the name of a real company, doesn’t mean it will take you to the real website.

If you get a text you think is a scam, contact the company it claims to come from to let them know.

You can also forward the text to 7726, which spells “SPAM.” That allows phone carriers to identify unwanted texts.

And here’s more on how to report scam texts to the government:

These agencies enforce the laws regarding scam calls and text messages. You may contact the FTC and FCC:

Federal Trade Commission
Consumer Response Center
600 Pennsylvania Avenue NW
Washington, DC 20580
(877) 382-4357
TTY: (866) 653-4261

Federal Communications Commission
445 12th Street, SW
Washington, D.C. 20554
(888) 225-5322