Beware of scam text messages that could affect cell phones with malware and make personal information accessible to thieves.

Attorney General Chris Koster warned Missourians about recent activity by identity thieves to steal information by offering fake prizes like Walmart or Costco gift cards.

According to Koster, these scam text messages ask the consumer to click a link to claim their prize. Unfortunately, when the consumer clicks the link, her cell phone is automatically infected with malware that allows identity thieves access to personal information, such as social security numbers and bank information. Koster said this scam is called “smishing.”

“My office is seeing a lot of illegitimate text messages promising free gift cards. We are warning Missourians not to fall for these scams and not to open the link in the text message,” Koster said. “You should never open a link in a text or email unless you know the sender very well and trust that he or she would only send you safe links.”

Koster said if consumers are ever in doubt as to whether to open a link, they should just delete it.

Koster also suggested consumers consider putting “security freezes” on their credit reports. Missouri law allows Missouri residents to notify credit reporting agencies not to give any business or person your credit information unless you so authorize. If you have a freeze on your account, thieves who steal your information will not be able to open credit accounts in your name. There is a small fee to set up the security freeze, limited by law to $5. If you have already been a victim of identity theft, there is no fee.

To place a freeze on your report, contact each credit agency at: Equifax, Trans Union, or Experian.

Read more