You have heard of phishing, but you might not have heard of ‘smishing’. Smishing is the text form of phishing which invades the ever popular short messaging services (SMS).
These are basically text messages that a user receives, and they hold promises of free gifts and prizes, even money or an iPhone, provided you click on the link they send you. And many people fall victim to this type of fraudulent texts as no one expects such spam to hinder their personal phones.
Adam Levin, chairman of Identity Theft 911, an identity-management solutions firm, says that smishing affects a person when they are most distracted. “You’re in a supermarket, at work, at a retail store when you get a message from what you think is a trusted source,” he says.
Users are directed to a site where they are normally asked simple questions, after which they will be directed to other sites, until they extract the credit-card information to cover the shipping costs of the free prize. Sometimes, smishing also results in malware being downloaded directly into your phone, which will allow them access to all the users’ data.
So in effect, a user would be giving away all their information, knowingly or unknowingly, in exchange for a free gift that will never reach him. Some of these spam texts are enough to steal your money from your accounts and drain your insurance.
According to Cameron Camp, security research at ESET, an IT security company, these types of mobile-related scams have increased in numbers, sophistication and variations. The information gleaned by fraudsters are used to build fake dossiers that are later used for identity theft.
So what do you have to do if you receive a spam text on your smartphone? Well, following the below steps would help you be safe from smishing:
Report it immediately by forwarding the text to 7726, which spells out SPAM on most phones. That will send the information to a service that’s operated by the telephone companies, which use it to identify and shut down problems on their networks.
- File complaints with the FTC and the FCC.
- Delete the message and don’t click on any URLs.
- Block the number, though it’s likely the fraudsters are changing numbers regularly.
- Do not text “STOP” in reply. It will alert the bad guys that the number is live and encourage more targeting of that phone.
- Only download smartphone applications from reputable stores, and even then, be sure to read the terms of service closely.
While sending spam texts is not a criminal offense, conning consumers to steal their money is a crime. The FTC, even though they have no criminal authority, hopes that filing suits against alleged scamsters would make the courts issue restraining orders and injunctions that would put a stop to these fraudulent acts.