If you’ve been using mobile devices to conduct business in recent years, you may have heard of smishing – a type of phishing attack that uses text messages instead of emails to try and steal your information.
While it may seem like a new term, smishing has been around for quite some time. In this blog post, we’ll explain what smishing is and how you can protect yourself against it. Stay safe out there!
What Is Smishing?
Smishing is a type of phishing attack that uses short message service (SMS), also known as text messaging, to try and trick you into giving up your personal or financial information. The attacker will send you a text message that appears to be from a legitimate source, such as your bank or another organization you do business with. This message will typically contain a link that takes you to a fake website designed to look like the real thing. Once you enter your information on this site, the attacker now has access to it.
Smishing attacks are becoming increasingly common because they can be very difficult to spot. The fake text messages often look identical to legitimate ones and can even come from a real phone number. This can trick you into thinking the message is legitimate, especially if you’re not expecting a text from that particular organization.
Types Of Smishing Attacks
There are various types of smishing attacks; below, we list some of the most popular;
Confirmation Smishing Scams
Confirmation smishing scams employ fraudulent confirmation requests to get you to disclose crucial information. This might be for an online order, an upcoming appointment, or a business owner’s bill invoice. The message may contain a link that takes you to a website where you’re asked to provide login details or other sensitive data to confirm your appointment or purchase.
Customer Support Scams
In customer support scams, the attacker pretends to be a customer service representative from a company you do business with. They will reach out via text or call asking for personal information such as your account number, social security number, or date of birth. They may also try to get you to download malicious software that gives them access to your device and its data.
Covid-19 Smishing Scams
Covid-19 smishing scams are similar to phishing scams that exploit people’s fears about the pandemic. These messages may claim to be from a government agency or health organization and contain links to fake websites that collect your personal information. They may also contain attachments with malware that can infect your device.
Financial Service Scams
The fact that nearly everyone uses banks and credit card companies to handle their money makes it easy for financial smishing frauds to take advantage of people.
These smishing messages pretend to be genuine and reputable banking institutions in order to get you to enter your login details or other financial information on a fake website. The attacker can then use this information to commit identity theft or fraud.
Gift Smishing Scams
Gift smishing scams are a type of phishing attack that uses the promise of a free gift to lure you into clicking on a malicious link. The message may claim to be from a popular retailer or online service and offer you a coupon or discount code for clicking on the link. Once you click, you may be taken to a fake website that collects your personal information or tries to install malware on your device.
6 Smishing Attack Warning Signs
Below we discuss some of the most common warning signs that you’re being smished;
Suspicious Phone Numbers
Smishing messages might be from phone numbers that appear to be unusual at first glance. They could stray from the usual ten-digit format or a sequence of the same number. If you receive a suspicious-looking message from this sort of number, do not respond and delete the text right away.
Typos And Bad Grammar
Smishing messages often contain typos, poor grammar, and strange syntax. This is because they’re usually sent out in mass quantities, and the attackers don’t have time to proofread them. If you see any red flags like this in a message, it’s likely a smishing attempt.
A Malicious Text Message Asking For Personal Details
Some smishing attempts will try to trick you into disclosing personal and banking information. Be very careful about any message that asks for this type of information, even if it appears to be from a reputable source.
Including A Sense Of Urgency
Smishing messages often include a sense of urgency to try and get you to act before thinking. They might say that your account has been compromised or that you must confirm your information before it’s too late. Don’t let this scare you into giving away your personal information.
Asking You To Click On A Link
Many smishing messages will try to get you to click on a link, often by offering a gift or discount. This link may take you to a fake website where your personal information is collected, or malware is downloaded onto your device. Be very careful about clicking on any links in text messages, even if they look safe at first glance.
Some smishing attempts may try to get you to send money to a certain account or individual. This is usually done by claiming that you’ve won a prize or lottery or that you need to pay taxes or fees. Don’t fall for this scam!
Price notifications on websites are a tell-tale sign of a smishing scam. Many times, these notifications will pop up and say that the website you are on is giving away a free item or service if you click on the notification. Once you click, you will be taken to a fake site that looks identical to the original site. This site will then ask for your personal information.
Ways To Avoid Smishing Scams
Here are six ways you can avoid falling victim to a smishing scam;
Do Your Research
Before clicking on any links or responding to any messages, do your research to ensure that the message is legitimate. You can do this by checking the website’s URL, looking for typos or bad grammar, and searching for online reviews.
Contact Banks Or Retailers Directly
If you’re unsure about a message you’ve received, contact the bank or retailer directly to confirm that the message is legitimate. Do not use the phone number or email address in the message, as these could be fake.
Use Caution With Links
As we mentioned before, many smishing messages will try to get you to click on a link. Be very careful about clicking on any links in text messages, even if they look safe at first glance. If you’re unsure about a link, hover your mouse over it to see where it will take you before clicking.
Use Two-factor Authentication
Two-factor authentication is an extra layer of security that can help protect you from smishing scams. This means that, in addition to your password, you’ll also need to enter a code that’s sent to your phone or email before you can log in.
Install Security Software
Security software can help protect your device from malware and other threats. Make sure that your security software is up to date and that you have a firewall enabled.
Never Respond To Suspicious Text Messages
If you receive a text message that looks suspicious, do not respond to it. Responding to the message could confirm your phone number to the attacker, which can then be used for future attacks.
Report Any Suspicious Activity
If you think you may have been a victim of smishing or if you receive a suspicious text message, report it to your local police department and the Federal Trade Commission.
Don’t Send Important Information Via Text
Text messages are not a secure way to send important or personal information. If you must send this type of information, make sure to use a secure website or app.
Frequently Asked Questions About Smishing
Here are some frequently asked questions about smishing;
What Is Smishing Short For?
Smishing is short for “SMS phishing.
Can I Get A Virus From Opening A Text?
Yes, it is possible to get a virus from opening a text message. If the text message contains a link, do not click on it! This could take you to a website where malware is downloaded onto your device.
Is Smishing A Cybercrime?
Yes, smishing is a form of cybercrime. If you think you may have been a victim of smishing, report it immediately.
What Is The Difference Between Phishing Attacks And Smishing?
Phishing is when an attacker tries to get you to click on a link or download an attachment in an email. Smishing is when an attacker tries to get you to click on a link or download an attachment in a text message. Both phishing and smishing can be used to steal your personal information.
Smishing attacks are becoming increasingly common, but there are steps you can take to protect yourself. By being aware of the signs of a smishing attack and taking precautions, you can help keep your personal information safe.
Do you have any tips for avoiding smishing scams? Share them in the comments below!