The Verizon website on an Android phone in someone's pocket.
Piotr Swat/Shutterstock.com

Text message scams are becoming more common, and the latest scam we’ve seen is the most sophisticated yet. The scammer impersonates Verizon, sending you an “account security” text message that takes you to a shockingly convincing copy of Verizon’s website.

We opened the link to see the scam in action. Don’t try this at home: If you receive a scam message, we recommend against opening any links attached to it. You should also delete the message and block the sender.

The scam text message says, “Your Verizon account security needs validation” and invites you to tap a link to “validate your account.” Once you do, you end up at a phishing website that looks almost exactly like Verizon’s real website.

A Verizon SMS phishing scam on an iPhone.

The fake website asks for your My Verizon mobile number or user ID and password. After you provide those, it’ll ask for your account PIN. Finally, it requests all your personal details to “identify yourself.”

For smishing scams, this is convincing work. The website looks real and authentic—if you don’t look too hard at the address, which isn’t actually Verizon’s actual website.

Like a real account sign-in page, it even checks the information you’re entering. If you leave your name blank, it’ll ask you to enter a name before you continue.

A phishing website impersonating Verizon.

At the end of the process, the phishing website thanks you for providing your information and “redirects you to the home page.”

For maximum deception, the phishing website actually redirects you to Verizon’s real website at the end of the process. If you don’t look too close, you might be deceived into thinking you were on Verizon’s website the whole time.

What’s the game? We didn’t provide real Verizon account details, so we can’t say for sure. The scammer will probably try to take over your Verizon account, order smartphones on credit, and stick you with the bill. That’s a common scam these days, as we discovered when we talked to fake job recruiters. The scammer could also use your information to execute a phone port-out scam, stealing your phone number and using it to bypass two-step verification on your accounts. If you’ve encountered this scam and given your personal details to the phishing website, you should contact Verizon immediately.

A Verizon smishing website after you've entered personal details.

Smishing is on the rise, bringing spam email scams to the Messages app on your phone.

Scammers are also sending messages with fake FedEx package tracking numbers and warnings about suspending Netflix accounts, but this latest one is the most dangerous we’ve seen.

Be alert for suspicious messages. If you haven’t already gotten a scammy text message, you probably will in the future. Here’s how to protect yourself from smishing scams.

RELATED: What Is Smishing, and How Do You Protect Yourself?

Chris Hoffman Chris Hoffman
Chris Hoffman is Editor in Chief of How-To Geek. He's written about technology for nearly a decade and was a PCWorld columnist for two years. Chris has written for The New York Times, been interviewed as a technology expert on TV stations like Miami's NBC 6, and had his work covered by news outlets like the BBC. Since 2011, Chris has written over 2,000 articles that have been read more than 500 million times---and that's just here at How-To Geek.
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