Smishing Is Seriously Growing As Scammers Update Their Tactics

September 25, 2019



Smishing certainly sounds silly and harmless but it has become a serious fraud risk that can rob a person's life savings in the blink of an eye. The word smishing combines SMS, the primary technical format for text messaging, and phishing. As in other phishing attacks, the criminals masquerade as government workers, tech support representatives, long-lost friends, or financial institutions and try to lure people into divulging personal details that could lead to fraudulent credit card purchases or identity theft. A scammer may have already tried it on you or someone you know.  It usually it involves receiving a text from a familiar number stating you have some money to put in your digital wallet along with a link.  Of course the link allows access to your personal information stored on your phone and within minutes thieves can drain your bank account. In 2018, the Federal Trade Commission logged 93,331 complaints about unwanted text messages, including smishing attempts. That was up 30% from the year before. And reports are continuing to climb in 2019. Security experts say one reason for the increase in smishing is that these days people trust text messages more than phone calls or emails. So make sure to be aware of messages that claim to be from government agencies. Just as with phone calls, the IRS, Social Secuity or local government agencies will never send you an unsolicited text message or initiate contact via text message, email, or social media.  A tell-tale sign that you may be under attack is that a message is trying to impart a sense of urgency. These types of scams often imply that an immediate response is required to take advantage of an offer or to avoid a penalty. Never click embedded links from suspicious text messages. They can contain malicious code that could infect your mobile phone. And make sure your phone's operating system is up to date. Android and iOS are constantly being updated with enhanced security features. On Android models and iPhones, your phone's settings page should indicate what system you're using and whether an update is available.

SOURCE: Consumer Reports

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