‘Smishing’ a New Technique for Stealing Your Information Here on the Suncoast
Most of us have become used to email attempts from scammers to get our information and now are on the lookout for these scams. Unfortunately, as consumers get smart to certain issues like that, the thieves amongst us also evolve. A new scheme to get your credit card and personal information has become more prevalent, called smishing.
Sure the word sounds pretty humorous and like nothing, most of us should fear, but the exact opposite is the case. Hackers and others are now sending texts to your cellphone that look from legitimate sources, but by clicking on the links, you can reveal personal information to people who have nothing but ill intent in getting your financial data to use for their gain. This year alone, the losses from identity theft are expected to be north of $500 billion.
What is Smishing?
Now, we understand that many people use texting daily as their most prevalent form of communication. That said, how can you tell if the text is not legitimate? Here are a few ways that these scammers have found to present themselves:
- Sending a link looks like a reward or other innocent text that triggers downloading a malicious app when it is clicked on.
- Sending a link to a form that looks legitimate for billing or personal information capture. Many make it look like a past-due bill or information from a company you may be interested in.
- Targeting users with personal information. These thieves will do their research on your social media to personalize the texts to entice you to open.
- Referrals to tech support for devices or support you again may need based on items you own.
How to Protect Yourself
- Check for spelling errors and grammar. This is a key indicator that these are not legitimately from reputable companies.
- Visit the sender’s website directly, instead of clicking on the link in the message, to determine their validity.
- Verify the number the text was sent from to the information you can find for that company to ensure they match.
- Never give out personal information via text message, only on the website, or encrypted forms found on legitimate websites.
- If you don’t recognize the number, person, or topic as something you would have requested information regarding, don’t click on the message – ever!
If these texts look legitimate, what should you do to protect yourself?
Here are a few examples we have found of smishing texts:
As thieves get more technology savy, a good rule of thumb is not to click on any text or email you don’t know the sender. A few minutes of due diligence checking the company’s main website can tell if the number and information being requested of you is legitimate. Share this information with users to protect as many as possible. Finally, never give personal, financial, or sensitive information to someone over the phone or through text – only at the company’s main website and encrypted forms. With some due diligence, we can hopefully save ourselves hours, weeks, or months of undue stress if a hacker gets personal information they use for their purposes.
Photos courtesy of thesslstore smishing information page and Deposit Photos.