Are you getting lots of suspicious text messages? If so, it’s easy to become a victim of smishing. Some texts may be harmless, while others can come from scammers. They send spam messages to commit fraud by stealing your bank account number, identity, or other sensitive information.
Cybercriminals use elaborate ways of tricking people into responding to messages or clicking on links provided in the text. While it is easy to avoid clicking suspicious links, the urge to respond to a text or call telling the scammers to stop can be tempting. This blog post explores the world of smishing and how you can avoid it.
Smishing text messages are social-engineering scams that aim at persuading unwary individuals to hand over sensitive information. In 2022, people in the USA alone lost $330 million to scammers. It is a staggering figure.
Many people are reactive with their mobile devices and reply impulsively to messages. Scammers know this. They want you to respond to a text spontaneously.
Smishers use several ways to scam people into sending personal or financial information. You can, for example, receive a bank fraud alert. The text message will appear to be coming from your bank, alerting you about unauthorized transactions. They then ask you to call a number or click a link in the text message to verify your account that the con artist controls.
Calling the phone number or clicking the link allows scammers to steal your identity and money or infect your mobile device with malware.
Smishers can find your name, address, and other information from public online platforms. But they aim to get sensitive data to help them access your accounts. That can be your password, PIN, social security number, or other personal details.
Protect Yourself From Smishing Attacks
It is simple to avoid smishing scams. Cybercriminals, however, are full of tricks, making it too hard to fight the desire to respond to text messages. Here are some ways you can avoid becoming a smishing victim:
Ignore the Text Message
If you think that the text message is coming from a scammer, responding to it will alert them that your phone number is active. As a result, it motivates them to increase the scam messages sent to your phone.
Therefore, never respond to suspicious text messages, even if the sender says you should write and text back the word STOP to unsubscribe. Con artists rely on your interest and curiosity over the situation, but you should refuse to engage with them. Only text the word STOP if you trust the company that sent the message.
Avoid Clicking Links
Most smishing techniques rely on playing with the emotions of people. They will try to raise your interest to get you to enter information into a malicious website or click on a link and download a virus to your mobile phone.
Everyone makes mistakes. If you click on a link in the scam message, change the passwords associated with your account immediately. Contact your bank and let them know about the smishing attempt. They may freeze your account or take other safety measures to prevent the fraud.
Installing an antivirus app immediately and scanning your mobile device is necessary. A virus on your phone might already be stealing sensitive information, making it too late to prevent the smishing attack. Still, stop it before it does further damage.
An antivirus app may prevent future smishing scams. Remember, however, that a successful attempt will make the scammers more determined than ever to target you again.
Visit the Company’s Website Directly
A scam message often appears as if it is coming from a reputable company to get personal and financial information from you. Many users see smishing messages like that, and most of the time, these messages bypass spam filters using clever disguise tactics.
Staying on guard is the key to spotting smishing. If you receive a suspicious text message from any company, check their website first. Get the contact details on the website and call the customer service team to check whether or not the text message is legit.
Always verify the authenticity of the text message before taking any action. Independently contact the company using official contact details on their website, not information in the suspicious text message.
Perform a Basic Web Search
A quick web search may tell you whether or not the text message is genuine. You may come across a statement that your bank is sending text messages to clients or a company is offering prizes.
Check the authenticity of the text message by copying and pasting it into a search engine like Google. If you received a suspicious message, some people may have also gotten it. Look for postings that show a suspicious number or message you received as a scam. Other victims will leave feedback about their experiences with that message or phone number.
If this does not work, use Nuwber, a reverse phone number lookup service that will help you verify the phone number’s owner.
Do Not Share Sensitive Personal Details
Avoid sharing passwords, social security numbers, and bank details via text, as it exposes you to smishing attacks. Con artists are looking forward to getting these sensitive personal details and can access them in your device’s sent folder.
Do not respond to messages that request you to share sensitive information through text. Banks or other legitimate companies will not ask for your details this way. Report any suspicious activities and verify the requests.
Do not store sensitive personal information on your mobile device, including account numbers, passwords, and ID pictures. If the wrong person gets hold of it, it can lead to identity theft or other fraudulent activities.
A smishing attack can lead to security and privacy concerns. Be diligent to reduce the risk of becoming a victim. Be wary of suspicious text messages, especially those asking for personal information or offering unexpected discounts and prizes.
To safeguard yourself against smishing attacks, ignore the text message, avoid clicking links in the text message, visit the company’s website directly, perform a basic web search, and do not share sensitive details via text messages with anyone, including your friends and family. Adopting these practices will prevent further smishing attempts.