We’re all well-educated when it comes to phone and email scams, but how much do we know about “smishing?” Just in the past couple years, cell phone users are being presented with an additional threat called SMS phishing (text scams). SMS phishing is when a fake person or a computer sends you a text message containing a link. The message typically prompts the receiver of the message to do one of two things:

1. Click on said link, causing the victim to unknowingly download malware to their phone or
2. Provide sensitive information such as financial or identity info.

How do you know it’s a scam

Sometimes the instructions are disguised as a promotional. They trick users into thinking they have won a contest and just need to complete a few “simple steps” to claim their prize. This kind of scam is particularly dangerous for gullible cell phone users like teens and senior citizens.

Scammers also masquerade as someone in need or someone asking you if you were aware of a credit card purchase. Remember that if someone was truly in need, you would recognize who it was. And if your credit or debit card actually was compromised, the card company or your bank would contact you directly in a forthright manner via phone call or a legitimate email.

What kind of protection is available

There have been several software and security features released to alert cell phone users of phone and email scams such as scam caller ID, automated spam detection/filtering, and virus alerts. But text inboxes are more difficult to protect, meaning the users themselves are their best security. This is why it’s so important for cell phone users to be aware of this type of threat.

What to do if you receive a text scam

There’s not much you can do to prevent yourself from receiving SMS scams. However, you can control your response to them.

  1. First of all, do not reply to messages from numbers or people you don’t recognize.
  2. Use common sense: if you do not have credit card debt or did not enter a cruise promotional, ignore text messages that reassure you they can “help you with your debt” or congratulating you on “winning a free cruise.” If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is and you can simply delete the message.
  3. SMS phishing thrives on unsuspecting cell phone users who believe lies and “take the bait.” So don’t click on links or give out private, financial, or identity-related information.
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