News Story


Fraud Warning - Criminals Seeking Personal Information Via Text Message
10/13/2016 1:38:00 PM


Nature of Incident:

Thousand Oaks Police Warn Public of SMiShing Fraud


City of Thousand Oaks

Date & Time:


Unit Responsible:

Thousand Oaks Investigations Unit



The Thousand Oaks Police Department would like to remind cell phone users to be cautious when responding to suspicious text messages due to an increase in SMS phishing also known as SMiShing.

SMiShing or SMS phishing is a form of phishing. This occurs when a criminal sends a text message asking you to provide sensitive, personal and/or financial information via a link, a false website or a telephone number.  In the last week, several Thousand Oaks residents have become victims of this increasing fraud, leaving residents in financial ruins.  

Criminals have become increasingly clever as they make text messages appear to be coming from a trusted source like a friend, a retail store, or a bank. The messages have a sense of urgency in order to get you to act quickly, without much thought. These messages include offers for a free product or a great discount.  They may also appear to come from your bank, advising you that your credit card is going to be canceled unless you verify your account right away, by clicking on a link in the message. Once the link is clicked, it may prompt you to input your personal identifying information including your card number, username and password.  This information will give the criminal full access to your financial accounts or use your information to commit identity theft.

SMiShing attempts are increasing because criminals go where the opportunities are greatest, the cell phone.  There are approximately 7 billion cellphone users in the world and text messaging has become a primary form of communicating between cell phone users.

The Thousand Oaks Police Department would like to provide the following safety tips to avoid becoming the victim of a SmiShing attempts:

  • Avoid clicking links within text messages.
  • Don't respond to text messages that request private or financial information
  • If you get a message that appears to be from your bank, financial institution, or other entity, contact that business directly to verify they sent the request.
  • Beware of messages that are not coming from a cell number. Scammers mask their identity by using email to text services to avoid revealing their actual phone number.
  • If a text message is urging you to respond quickly, remember that criminals use this to get you to do what they want.
  • Never reply to a suspicious text message without verifying the source.



Prepared by:

Detective Timothy Lohman


Media Release Date:

October 13, 2016


Follow-Up Contact:

Detective Timothy Lohman ' (805) 947-8255


Approved by:

Captain Mike Hartmann