Everything You Need To Know About “Smishing”: The Latest Approach To Electronic Scams | Rogersville


Has anyone else received random text messages on your phone saying something like “You did not pick up your phone valued at $ 1,288.00” or “Your package was stopped at the terminal. Please solve the problem by clicking on this link? “

It seems like I’m getting more than several of these types of texts per day here lately.

It used to be random emails, but now it looks like the crooks are trying a new tactic, using text messaging.

I still get the emails too, but they are easier to filter. Either way, these types of posts are definitely a scam. As the old saying goes, “If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is. “

SMS scams are much less common than email scams, but that doesn’t mean you should ignore the possibility of receiving one.

Smishing (SMS Phishing) is an increasingly common tactic for fraudsters and identity thieves. As awareness of other forms of scams has grown, scammers have turned to lesser-known methods. Some text messages seem so real that it’s tempting to click and see what the result is.

I’m going to turn around Nike’s phrase that we hear a lot and say, ” Do not do it ! “

In addition to tricking you into making payments for bogus services, common purposes of scam text include obtaining your personal information and account details for fraud or blackmail.

Avoid becoming a victim by looking for these seven telltale signs of an SMS scam:

Unidentified numbers

If the number texting you is unknown or is an 11-digit mobile number, it is a sign that the text message may not be from who it is claiming. Most organizations only send SMS using a 6-digit short code or using their 10-digit toll-free number or landline.

Searching for the number online should lead you to pages related to the business. Make sure the search shows the real site. Some crooks will create a fake site associated with their number to make the text scam more believable. Look carefully at the URL in your browser window. If it’s something other than a legitimate business name before the “dot,” run away as quickly as possible.

Do not use your name or a name that you do not recognize

Legitimate businesses that contact you about your account or purchases almost always use your name in their messages. If a sender doesn’t know your name, you probably haven’t given them your number.

It is important to remember that your name may already be linked to your number through your online accounts, so even if your name is used, that alone is not a guarantee.

Claiming an established relationship

Many types of SMS scams involve you having a prior relationship with the sender, such as claiming that you have already purchased from their company.

These SMS scams rely on you assuming that you just forgot them and respond out of politeness. If you do not recognize the sender of an SMS, do not respond. Especially if they ask you for money, information, or to click on a link.

Give a reward

Offering an incentive to respond to an SMS scam is a common tactic. These texts often say that you have won a contest or a raffle. To collect the prize, they will ask for personal information or bank details.

Legitimate businesses won’t text you about contests or giveaways unless you’ve signed up with them before. They also have no incentive to give prizes to random numbers.

Besides contests and prizes, SMS scams can present other forms of financial incentive to respond.

Common text scams in this category include messages claiming to be from the government informing you that you are entitled to a tax refund or discussing refunds or compensation for a product or service that you have never purchased.

Threats and Risks

Unlike SMS scams that offer a bogus reward for getting your information, others take a more aggressive approach. These introduce risks or costs that you should avoid.

For example, a text message might claim that you are behind on subscription fees for a non-existent service. These often include a warning that you could face late fees if you don’t pay now. These text scams aim to freak you out and take action before you look closely at the message.

A very recent example of this type of message is the wave of COVID-19 SMS scams sent over the past few months. These texts claim that the government fined you for not staying at home, and beneficiaries must pay immediately to avoid further consequences.

Often times, this type of text scam is all about getting you to respond. Once you commit and worry about the risk, they will ask you for money or information.

For example, you might receive a text message confirming a purchase you never made, in the hope that you will try to cancel or get a refund. The scammer can then request your account details to resolve the issue.

This method allows crooks to avoid asking for information or payment in their initial message, making it more convincing.

Administration requests

Another way to trick you into providing information is to ask you to perform administrative tasks such as updating your password or confirming your email.

Often the intention of posts like this is to get you to click a link and enter your account information to correct the issue mentioned in their text. These text scams often link to bogus versions of commonly used sites such as Amazon, Google, or Facebook. Most companies don’t text customers for minor issues like these. You can manage them by logging into their website instead of following text links.

Ignore your DNC status

The Do Not Call registry information is available to any genuine business that uses SMS to contact customers.

Ignoring these lists can result in significant fines that companies want to avoid. If you receive text messages despite signing up on DNC lists, they are probably not from a real company.

If you think you have received an SMS scam, what should you do?

Do not click on any link

Even if you don’t intend to enter any information, following a scam link in text can provide a scammer with more information through your browser or allow them to install malicious code on your phone.

Don’t download anything

It should be obvious that it is a bad idea to download anything attached to a suspicious message. Attachments can do anything from tracking your activity and crawling your phone for account details to finding private data.

Do not answer

Responding to an SMS scam can be risky even if you know it is a scam, as the scammer may just aim to confirm the owner of the number they have texted. You might also incur costs just for replying to the text. Plus, replying can encourage more scam or harassment text messages if you confront them.

Never provide personal information

The previous points cover this, but it should never be forgotten. Trying to win an argument by proving that a crook’s information is false could play its part in identifying you.

Report it

Report scams by text message to national authorities such as the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) or by sending the text to 7726. This helps identify scams and prevent others from falling victim to them.

If you’ve already provided information or clicked a link before realizing your mistake, immediately report the situation to your bank and any business where your account may be affected.

Change your passwords and lock out all affected accounts before crooks can use them.

Finally, SMS scams are usually not hard to spot once you know what to look for. Always beware of unknown numbers and companies or services that you don’t recognize or have accounts with. Never reply to suspicious texts and remember to avoid clicking on links to protect yourself from fraudulent texts.

If handled correctly, the worst thing about fraudulent texts is having to deal with them. Next week, I’ll talk about a few possible ways that I don’t have to see them in the first place.


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