You've probably already heard of phishing scams, where cybercriminals send fraudulent emails in an attempt to trick people into clicking on a malicious link or opening a malware-laden attachment. But have you heard of smishing?
Smishing is 'phishing' done via text message, and it's becoming an increasingly popular way for scammers to try to steal personal information. Here's what you need to know about smishing scams and how you can avoid them.
What is Smishing?
As stated, smishing is a type of phishing scam that uses text messages instead of email. The word 'smishing' is a portmanteau of 'SMS' (short message services, better known as texting) and 'phishing'. Just like with phishing scams, the goal of smishing is to trick the recipient into giving up personal information or money. Phishers might do this by promising a free gift card or coupon, or by pretending to be from a trusted organization like a bank or government agency.
How Can You Spot a Smishing Scam?
Spotting a smishing scam can be tricky, but there are some telltale signs that you're dealing with a scammer. For one, they'll often create a sense of urgency by claiming that you need to act now in order to take advantage of their offer. They might also use threatening language, saying that your account will be closed unless you take action immediately. And beware of any offers that seem too good to be true -- if it sounds too good to be true, it probably isn't.
How Can You Avoid Smishing Scams?
The best defense against smishing scams is educating yourself and others about how they work. Be sure to warn your friends and family members about these types of scams and advise them not to click on any links or attachments in texts from unknown numbers. If you're ever unsure whether or not a text message is legitimate, contact the supposed sender directly -- don't reply to the text itself. This is particularly true of texts claiming to be from government agencies or banks. Rather than clicking on any link in a text message, try finding the correct number online and phoning that instead.
Smishing scams are on the rise, so it's important to be aware of how they work and how you can avoid them. If you receive a suspicious text message, do not click on any links or attachments. Instead, contact the supposed sender directly to confirm that the message is legitimate.
And always remember: if an offer seems too good to be true, it probably isn't legit.