Smishing Scams: A Text Messaging Threat on the Rise

 

Phishing scammers are not simply targeting victims by email. They are also sending text messages requesting personal information so they can steal your identity and apply for new credit in your name. This scam, called smishing, or SMS phishing, is any type of phishing activity carried out through text message.

According to Symantec, users tend to trust text messages more than emails. In turn, these users are less cautious with clicking on text message links. 

Smishers generally send text messages instructing the recipient to confirm account information by completing one of these tasks:
Call a phone number: An automated system will usually take the phone call. The automated system will ask you to enter your personal information, such as a bank’s debit card number and PIN number. 
Click on a link: The recipient is directed to a portal cloaked as a legitimate institution. The scam portal will then ask the user to confirm account information by entering personal data. Alternately, the portal can start installing keylogging software that records your keystrokes, including your account login information to financial websites. 

 

Examples of smishing scam messages from USA Today:

• Dear customer, Bank of America needs you to verify your PIN number immediately to confirm you're the proper account holder. Some accounts have been breached. We urgently ask you to protect yourself by confirming your info here.

• IRS Notice: Tax Return File Overdue! Click here to enter your information to prevent being prosecuted.

• Your entry last month has WON. Congratulations! Go to [URL] and enter your winning code – 1122 – to claim your $1,000 Best Buy gift card!

 

What can you do?

• If you get a text asking to confirm information, it’s not coming from a legitimate organization. Government agencies and banks won’t ask for personal and financial information by text message. 
• Don’t reply to text messages from numbers you don’t know, not even to tell them to stop contacting you. Block the number, if the function is available on your phone plan. 
• Don’t open links from numbers you don’t know, especially if it comes from a 5000 number. There’s no filtering program available to block a malicious text from reaching your phone. Delete the message instead.
• Don’t call the number listed in the text message. Go directly to the institution’s website and use their posted phone number instead.
• Report a spam text message to your phone carrier by forwarding messages to 7726 (SPAM). Your phone carrier will look into the issue.
• Install anti-virus/anti-malware protection on your device.
• Examine your phone bill for any unusual charges. 
• Add your phone number to the Do Not Call Registry.
• Don’t post your phone number on social media. 
• Update your smartphone’s operating system to its latest version.
• If you gave out your private information by text already, contact these credit card reporting agencies and they’ll determine if they need to place a fraud alert on your file:

○ Experian

○ TransUnion

○ Equifax

• If you are a victim of a smishing scam, file a complaint with the Federal Trade Commission (FTC). Email your information to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

 

If you have any questions regarding the security of your smartphone, you can reach out to SwiftTech Solutions at 877-794-3811 or This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

 

SOURCES
Security Through Education. SMiShing. Retrieved from: https://www.social-engineer.org/framework/attack-vectors/smishing/
RSA Security Inc. Phishing, Vishing and Smishing: Old Threats Present New Risks. Retrieved from: https://www.emc.com/collateral/white-papers/h11933-wp-phishing-vishing-smishing.pdf
Swanson, L. Beware of Text Message Phishing — or "Smishing" — Scams. Retrieved from: https://www.ag.state.mn.us/Brochures/pubtextmessagephishingorsmishingscams.pdf
Segarra, L.M. 'Smishing' Is Internet Scammers' New Favorite Trick. Here's How to Avoid It. (2017, July 7). Retrieved from: http://fortune.com/2017/07/07/smishing-scam/
Federal Trade Commission. Text Message Spam. Retrieved from: https://www.consumer.ftc.gov/articles/0350-text-message-spam
CNBC. 'Smishing' scams target your text messages. Here's how to avoid...(2017, July 5). Retrieved from: http://www.cnbc.com/video/2017/07/05/smishing-scams-target-your-text-messages-heres-how-to-avoid-them.html?play=1
Norton. What is Smishing? Retrieved from: https://us.norton.com/internetsecurity-emerging-threats-what-is-smishing.html
Philadelphia Federal Credit Union. Smishing. Retrieved from: https://www.pfcu.com/financial-education/security-resource-center/smishing

 

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