ICBC warns customers about SMiShing Scam

Published: September 29, 2017

Updated: July 24, 2018

Author: Luke Jones



The Insurance Corporation of British Columbia (ICBC) has issued a statement warning customers to delete and report any text messages that claims to be sent by the public insurer. The Crown Corporation says “a number” of customers have reported receiving such tests over the last 24 hours.

In its release, ICBC says the messages attempt to get the receiver to follow a link to claim money. Under the guise of the company, the attackers tell the receiver they have been sent a refund for a traffic fine or other infraction. When the customer follows the link, they will find a form to enter personal information.

The text message and the website are both false and malicious. Called SMiShing (SMS phishing), the ploy has two benefits for cybercriminals. First, like a normal phishing scam, it lures them to the malicious site, which will automatically begin to download malware onto their device. If successful, the hacker could have control over a smartphone, including what is typed, photos, and personal details.

“ICBC stresses it does not use unsecure channels, like text messaging or social media, to communicate sensitive information to its customers,” the release said. “Furthermore, ICBC does not issue refunds via text message or Interac etransfer. In most cases, reading the text shouldn’t cause harm to one’s mobile device but customers should delete the text immediately and not click on any links,” the corporation warned.

Those who have received such a text are warned to avoid links and report the incident to the police (non-emergency line) and the Government of Canada’s Anti-Fraud Centre at 1-88-495-8501.

“ICBC is in no way involved with this incident other than being named in the messages, and have confirmed that all its information systems have not been compromised,” the release said.

The insurer also offered the following customer tips to avoid the scam:

  • Don’t click links within text messages, especially if it’s sent from an unknown person. But also be aware that sometimes a scam text could come from somebody known to the victim;
  • Don’t respond to texts that ask for private or financial information;
  • If one gets a message that appears to be from ICBC or another institution that they regularly do business with, contact the business directly to confirm they sent the message. ICBC’s customer service line is 1-800-663-3051;
  • Never reply to a suspicious text message without doing research and verifying the source;
  • Never call a phone number from an unknown texter; and
  • Common sense is the best protection against fraud. If something sounds too good to be true, it probably is.