Smishing – the Latest Texting Scam
First, there was phishing – a fraudulent solicitation of your personal information via websites and online shopping. Now, consumers need to be aware of “smishing” – scammers latest way to attempt to steal your private information.
Also known as SMS phishing, smishing is a way for fraudsters to get your personal information via text messaging. Smishing scam message appear to be from a financial institution – maybe your own, but not necessarily – and often include a link or phone number for you to click or call.
As companies have begun using two-factor authentication, where a verification code is sent to an email or phone number provided, consumers are more accustomed to receiving codes in text messages, making people less likely to doubt a seemingly random text message.
While receiving codes from your financial institution is common, receiving credit card offers, refunds and prizes via text is not.
Feeling funny about a text? Be on the lookout for these signs, according to simpletexting.com:
- Unusually long numbers: Most legitimate marketing text messages are sent from a six-digit code, a text-enabled, 10-digit toll-free number or a business’s ten-digit landline (you can Google this to verify). If you receive a text from an unidentified 11-digit number, even if they identify themselves as a company you work with, be aware this could signal a scam.
- Random “family emergency” texts: Scammers try to use a sense of urgency to get you to act quickly. (“Your (family member) who lives in ___ or is traveling in ___ has run into some trouble. They’re in need of financial help and a money transfer is the only way you can help them!”) While these may sound frightening and urgent, take a moment to pause and think logically – ask questions and attempt to verify the person’s identity, or reach out to another family member or friend to verify the story.
- Refund scams: text messages claim money is owed to you. This scam is an attempt to secure your account information and steal from you.
- Reactivation scams: These texts may appear to come from a place of concern, claiming “your (email, text, app) password has been compromised. Your account has been deactivated for your protection. Text XXXXXX to reactivate your account.” Do not reply to these messages – go right to your accounts in question and check them yourself.
- Claims that you’ve “won a prize!”: If you ever receive a text message like this from an unverified phone number, believe it’s too good to be true. Don’t click on any hyperlinks in the text, respond in any way or call a phone number. If you didn’t enter to win anything recently, you can’t have won (the world doesn’t work that way). Research the company they are claiming to be via website, phone, or social media.
If your gut tells you something is off, go with it. Slow down and think about the text message you’re reading and the likelihood of its contents. Never click links, reply to texts, or call phone numbers in these texts. Instead, go to the source they are claiming to be and contact them directly. Delete the message and report the spam to the Federal Trade Commission at ftccomplaintassistant.gov.
As always, UNCLE Credit Union will never call, text or email to ask for any personal information. If you receive a call or text from someone pretending to be UNCLE, hang up and dial 800-34-UNCLE to alert an UNCLE associate.
Sources: fcc.gov; simpletexting.com; consumerreports.org