Protecting Your Identity

Smishing

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Scamming by Text Message

First, there was "phishing” to lure you into submitting personal information via a phony website. Then came "vishing” where thieves use a call to your home posing as a trusted merchant to get you to reveal private details like credit card numbers or PINs.

Well, with the proliferation of mobile phones, it’s no wonder the criminals have branched out to "smishing.” Grabbing the "sm” from the "SMS” technology of text messaging services, criminals send unsuspecting victims a text message that is cleverly worded to warrant a response.

Be Skeptical of the Urgency

Often, they will use scare tactics like posing as your financial institution to confirm a large withdrawal or your credit card company trying to verify that you made a large purchase. The message will sometimes be embarrassing to prompt you to respond immediately like confirming your subscription to a dating service or other adult material. Some will send you to a phony website or include a fake phone number for you to call and submit or verify personal information. The friendliest ones will send an excited message from a friend proclaiming how cool the attached app is and telling you to download it for free. Unfortunately, the link is actually malware designed to hack your account.

The Best Ways to Protect Yourself:

  1. Wait until you are home and have more information that you can reference. The very nature of the mobile phone means you are often caught off guard while you’re out and about. Don’t be afraid to wait.
  2. Call the phone number of your financial institution that you have on your statement, your credit or debit card, or from their website after you’ve typed in the URL yourself.
  3. Ask your carrier if they offer anti-smishing programs for your mobile phone.
  4. Review apps before purchasing and don’t ever download an app sent via a text message.