What Is a Smishing Scam? How Can You Spot One? | #socialmedia


Cybercriminals are developing more and more ways to take advantage of unsuspecting victims through their devices as they become an increasingly integral part of our lives. One such method commonly used by these criminals is smishing. So how does smishing work? And how can you spot and avoid it to keep yourself safe?

What Is Smishing?

The term “smishing” is a merger of “SMS” (Short Message Service) and “phishing”—fittingly so, as smishing scams involve conducting phishing via SMS. Such scams fall under the umbrella of social engineering scams, wherein a person’s trust is exploited for the scammer’s benefit. Smishing scammers can also be referred to as “smishermen”.

Because almost everyone has their own cell phone these days, accessing victims via SMS has become incredibly easy. Even if someone doesn’t have a smartphone, they can still be communicated with using SMS. So smishing can be a very useful and convenient venture for scammers. People can also assume that cybercrime is more native to email and social media platforms, rather than texts; when they receive a smishing text, it can be easier to fall for.

Smishing scams often involve cybercriminals impersonating trusted organizations or government bodies in order to convince victims to divulge personal information. A scammer could pretend to be from the postal service, for example, and state that you need to click on a provided link to rearrange a missed package delivery. This link will likely lead to a dupe of an official courier website, wherein you’ll be asked to give your address, contact details, or even your payment information to confirm your delivery.

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Once you unknowingly give the scammer the information they’re after, they can hack online accounts, spend money using your card, or even sell your data on the dark web. You might be wondering how scammers even get their hands on your phone number to conduct phishing scams. Illegal data sales are worryingly common online, wherein hackers will infiltrate organizations’ databases and sell off huge amounts of user data to the highest bidder. Whoever buys your phone number can then get in touch with you easily.

Smishing became particularly popular during the COVID-19 pandemic, wherein scammers would impersonate healthcare organizations in order to trick victims. Fake vaccine appointments, COVID contact alerts, and PPE giveaways were all commonly used to steal sensitive data from victims, such as email addresses, payment information, and social security numbers.

Though smishing scams are rife, there are ways that you can spot and avoid them to keep yourself and your data safe.

How to Spot a Smishing Scam

The first thing to remember when you receive a text from anyone you don’t know is that you should never click on any kind of link until you’ve confirmed whether it’s legitimate. You can do this easily by running the link through a link-checking website, which will tell you if the URL in question is safe.

Additionally, you should be very wary of any texts or links that request personal information from you. If you’ve received a text from a well-known organization and some kind of personal information is being requested, get in touch with the organization through their official contact number or online chat first so that you can talk to a representative about your account. Certainly don’t provide sensitive information, like your address, login credentials, or payment details.

You can also use your phone’s security settings to protect yourself from smishing. Most phone models offer a feature that allows you to block or filter unknown senders so that you’re shielded from smishing from the start. You can even get warnings of potentially unsafe phone calls as you receive them. Research the safety options offered by your phone to add an extra layer of protection from cybercriminals.

Lastly, it’s crucial that you never respond to potential smishing texts. This can confirm to the criminal that your phone is being actively used, which means they may try to scam you again in the future or even give your number to other malicious parties.

Smishing Is Dangerous but Can Be Avoided

Unfortunately, smishing has become incredibly popular with cybercriminals over the past decade or so, with huge numbers of individuals falling for such swindles. But by taking a few extra steps before engaging with any kind of suspicious text, you can further protect yourself from smishing scams and keep your data private and secure.



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