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Why You Need To Know Smishing, and How To Protect Yourself

Billy KE

March. 12, 2020

pedrorsfernandes/Shutterstock.com

You’re probably familiar with email-based phishing, where a scammer emails you and tries to extract sensitive information like your credit card details or social security number. “Smishing” is SMS-based phishing—scam text messages designed to trick you.

Smishing is just the SMS version of phishing scams. Instead of a scammy email, you get a scammy text message on your smartphone. “SMS” stands for “short message service” and is the technical term for the text messages you receive on your phone.
The new text message package delivery scam is a perfect example of smishing. People are receiving text messages claiming to be from FedEx with a tracking code and a link to “set delivery preferences.”
If you tap that link on your phone (and you shouldn’t), you’ll end up on a fake Amazon site (a phishing site) with a fraudulent “free reward.” The site will request your credit card information for “shipping fees.” If you provide payment details, you’ll be billed $98.95 every month.
That’s just one example. An SMS phishing scheme could pretend to be from your bank and ask you to enter your social security number. Or, it could pretend to be from another legitimate organization and ask you to sideload potentially dangerous software on your phone. The possibilities are endless.\
You should be on guard for scammy text messages, just as you should watch out for malicious emails. All the standard tips for dealing with phishing emails apply to smishing, too:
Look at the source of the text message. For example, if Amazon always texts you a delivery alert from a specific number and a new message arrives in that conversation, that suggests it’s real. However, scammers can fake (spoof) the number a text message is from, just as they can fake caller ID on a phone.
Be alert for anything suspicious. If you receive a delivery alert from a new number—especially if you weren’t expecting a delivery—that alert is potentially suspect. We recommend you avoid opening the links in any potentially dangerous text messages.
-How-To Geek
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