What is Smishing?

“Smishing” is a mash-up of “SMS phishing” or phishing that occurs through text messaging.

Here are a few tips to avoid falling prey to a smishing scam!

At a high level, avoiding smishing scams is simple. Not clicking on links in unfamiliar or unexpected text messages is an easy first step. However, cyber criminals who use smishing scams are full of tricks that are intended to get one of two types of responses: either a click on a link or a response (either by phone or text) to the number sending the message. While you may feel empowered by avoiding any suspicious links, you’ll need to fight the desire to call or text back telling the scammers to stop.

1. Don’t reply to the text message or call the number

Even if the text message says “text ‘stop’ to stop receiving messages,” never reply. If you are sure the message is coming from scam number, replying may actually result in more messages getting spammed to your phone. The same may be true of calling the number. Often, scammers don’t know if the numbers they’re using are actually active. Providing a response to the message will verify to them that the number is indeed active, leading them to continue and potentially increase the number of scam messages you’re receiving.

A more effective option is to just block the number outright. Unfortunately, some model phones do not include phone blocking in the phone’s software. You may need to install a number blocking app from your phone’s app store.

2. Do a web search of both the number and the message content

If you’re feeling a bit uneasy about a potential smishing scam, type the number or the message (or both) into a Google search. Chances are, you are not the first person to receive that message. In many cases, you’ll find others posting on various scam number websites. Don’t just trust one negative response or inquiry, however. Look to see if a suspicious number or message has numerous others posting that it’s potentially a scam.

For personal reference, I tend to get a lot of spam and robocalls. My personal favorite site for this is 800notes.com. When I get a call from a suspicious number, I rely on the site to help vet the number of potential scams or spam.

3. If the phishing message is spoofing a company, call the company directly

Many smishing messages will pretend to be a well-known company, such as a store or bank. If you believe the message is a scam, instead of calling or texting the scam number, look up that company’s customer service number from its official website. Contact the service through that number and inquire about the message you received. If they confirm that it’s not from them, delete it.

4. Don’t click on any links in the message

All forms of smishing are usually a game of emotional manipulation. Often, scammers don’t need you to overtly give up passwords, pins and social security numbers. At times, all they need to do is pique your interest enough to get you to click on a link and download a virus to your phone. There’s a good chance that if you did click on a phishing link, your mobile device is already infected. Since the goal for such viruses is often to stay hidden, you may not realize your phone is actually infected. However, some telltale signs may be:

  • Unsuspected memory usage
  • Phone heating up excessively
  • Pop-up messages while using your smartphone web browser

If you did happen to click on a link from a suspected smishing text message, your best option is to install an antivirus app and scan your device. Any virus hiding on your phone could be logging keystrokes and stealing private information, meaning the smishing scam could already have been successful. Still, it’s better to cut it off at the heels even if you’ve potentially lost valuable information up to this point.

On the other hand, installing an antivirus app can help prevent smishing attacks in the future. A good antivirus app should block any virus installation attempts in the future, as well as block potentially malicious websites.

5.Utilize a VPN on your mobile device

One thing that often gets overlooked regarding smishing attacks is the collection of location data. According to internet security company Sophos, cybercriminals are increasingly using location data to better target individuals. Cybercriminals can use that data to send you smishing messages that appear extremely local. If the message seems more personal, it’s more likely to yield a response from victims.

A VPN app could help spoof your location, making it seem like you are somewhere else. If you receive a smishing message based on your spoofed location, it’s much easier to recognize it as a scam. However, more intelligent scammers may just use your phone’s area code to deliver somewhat relevant scams to your phone.

Nevertheless, a VPN can help prevent a cybercriminal from obtaining any data from your device. As your data moves through from your smartphone across the mobile network, it’s encrypted through the VPN tunnel. The scammer, therefore, may have a virus installed on your device but may be unable to receive any valuable data from it due to VPN encryption. This can help save you should you fall prey to a smishing scam that installs a virus on your device and afford you time to effectively get rid of it in time.


*Article from compbaritech.com