How to Spot the Latest Text Message Scam: “Smishing”

How to Spot the Latest Text Message Scam: “Smishing”

One of the biggest scams you should beware of comes from your phone.

In “Smishing” — a term that combines “SMS” and “phishing” — bad actors attempt to obtain your personal and banking information through unsolicited text messages on mobile devices. They do this by pretending to be government agencies, companies you may have done business with, or a package delivery service. They’ll say something to get your urgent attention like a text message about a free gift that you have to pay a small “shipping fee” to receive or they’ll send a warning about suspicious activity on your account.

“We’re seeing a lot of people posing at banks saying, ‘This is Chase Bank, there’s a hold on your account due to a security breach, click here to verify your information,'” said Amy Nofziger, director of fraud victims. Support with AARP.

The Federal Trade Commission reported that Americans lost $330 million to phishing scams in 2022, with an average loss of $1,000.

This type of text scam is easier to fool us because our phones train us to pay attention. “We have our devices with us, 24/7. And when we hear that little ‘ding!’ we automatically look at it. Whereas we don’t do that as much anymore with our email,” Nofziger said.

In package mailing scams, the suspicious message may appear harmless and read: “USPS: Because your package address does not have a home number, we are unable to arrange home delivery for you. Please update online,” The Federal Trade Commission shared as an example. But once you click, you’ll be asked to pay a “redelivery fee” to trick you into giving up your credit card information.

“Especially around the holidays and this time of year, we order packages frequently. So it may not be unusual to receive an email from a shipping company saying there’s a delay,” Nofziger said. That’s why she advises consumers to get into the habit of writing down what you ordered. Where did you order it from, and which company will provide the parcel delivery service?

When in doubt, contact the source rather than relying on a text message. “If you think there’s a problem with your shipping, your package, your item, or your bank account — just call the company at the number you have for them. Just check that way,” Nofziger said.

“It’s better to contact a company from its authentic website or phone number than to provide account information, login information, and password from a fake link,” said Stephanie Benoit Kurtz, faculty chair for cybersecurity at the University of Phoenix College of Business and Information Technology. .

How to detect a “Smishing” message.

An SMS text message can look like any other text message, but there are some telltale signs that will warn you that something is wrong. Here’s what to watch for:

Look to see how many people also received your message.

If your text message about a free gift or suspicious activity is also sent to multiple people, be suspicious. “This is an immediate red flag, and you should delete and block this number immediately,” Nofziger said.

Be wary of spam messages requesting your information.

A regular solicitation will tell you what information you’ve signed up to receive, while a spam message is more likely to ask for it, Nofziger said. “When they then ask you to exit that platform or ask you for personal information, that should be the first red flag for you. There is nothing as important as your personal and financial information,” she said.

Be skeptical of any action you have to take right away.

Bad actors want you to not have time to think, so make sure you take a breath and really think about what they are asking you to do. “The sense of urgency is”now“They’re looking for you to cash a check, purchase and provide information from gift cards, or log into an account from this link,” Benoit Kurtz said.

What you can do to block “Smishing” messages

Once you discover a “Smishing” message, don’t just leave it in your Messages folder. Take these actions to prevent future problems:

Block or filter spam.

You can filter messages from unknown senders on Apple phones by going to Settings, then Messages. Scroll down until you see Filter Unknown Senders and select it.

On Android phones, go to Settings, then Blocked Numbers. Turn on the Unknown option to block private or unidentified numbers from calling you.

Nofziger said filtering these messages is “a great tool people can use to give yourself a little red flag…‘Okay, this person isn’t in my contact list, because they didn’t come in my regular folder.’ So let me take a moment, and calm down , and pay attention to what this message asks for.

Report phishing.

USPS recommends attaching a screenshot of the text message showing the sender’s phone number and date sent, and sending it to spam@uspis.gov.

For iPhone spam that’s not in your Contacts, tap the Report Spam option that appears, then tap Delete and Report Spam. On Android phones, tap the person you want to block, tap More options, and from there select Block & Report Spam.

In general, you can forward the suspicious message to 7726 (spam). This way, your wireless service provider can learn how to block similar spam messages to you. You can also report it to the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) at reportfraud.ftc.gov.

What if you’re already “smiling”?

If you fall for a Smishing scam, don’t panic. There are still steps you can take to mitigate losses.

If you click on a link you think is suspicious, immediately scan your computer for malware, Nofziger said. Ignore any follow-up messages the person may send you, even if they seem friendly.

“Stop calling, because at some point, they’re going to ask you to go to a link or help you with your device,” Nofziger said.

And be sure to contact your bank about fraudulent transactions or security breaches, so they can investigate.

“If you believe you are a victim of fraud, be sure to report it to the financial institution or organization immediately. You can also contact your state attorney general’s office to report the problem,” Benoit Kurtz said.

This post originally appeared on HuffPost.

You may also like...

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *