Consumer Law

Smishing: The Newest Online Fraud

Smishing: The Newest Online Fraud – Rammy Barbari – https://whitecollarattorney.net/

Because the online environment is so commonly navigated on cell phones, hackers have started to target the devices we carry with us all day through smishing.

Smishing is a derivative of phishing, which is the fraudulent sending of emails to individuals in an attempt to steal personal information—such as passwords and credit card numbers.

Smishing is a new digital campaign that aims to steal user information through text messages. In other words, it is texting fraud. This can be as simple as receiving a fraudulent text message saying a package has arrived, or a more complex scheme, such as a text from someone impersonating the IRS. These texts would then have a link in it, and that link can open a backdoor for hackers into the user’s phone.

Why Smishing is Catching on

While most people are aware of the dangers and hazards associated with clicking links in emails, people are generally less aware when it comes to links in text messages. People are more likely to open a suspicious text message than they are to open an email.

When sending a text message, the sender is not authenticated—which means that sender could be anyone. There are even applications that allow individuals to send text messages from fake or shared telephone numbers. Since text messages are unauthenticated, this means that anyone can send a person a text message simply by knowing their phone number.

In addition, website links sent in text messages can be shortened and harder to inspect for security issues. The URL might say one thing and then redirect the user to a malicious site. Smishing often includes these shortened URLs to hide the destination site.

Signs of Smishing

There are a few different signs of smishing in a text message, including but not limited to:

●     Poor grammar

●     Unknown numbers

●     Phone numbers that do not like like typical phone numbers (usually long or short)

●     A message with unknown links

●     Call to action emergency texts (such as a family member is in trouble and needs money)

If these common indicators of smishing occur, it is best to err on the side of caution when dealing with suspicious or unknown text messages.


How to Respond to Potential Smishing Messages

The best way to respond to these types of messages is to simply not respond at all. When someone receives unknown texts, they can simply ignore or delete them.

The texts might seem legitimate, but most companies will not ask for personal information via text messaging. To try to ensure authentic communication, it is best to interact only with numbers you know, or communicate with companies on their official websites.


What Victims of Smishing Can Do

There are a few different steps that can be taken by victims of these elaborate schemes. Passwords should be changed, and if credit card information was included, that card should probably be canceled.

Any numbers that were part of the smishing campaign should be deleted or blocked, and the cell phone carrier should be informed of the incident. A report can also be filed with the Federal Trade Commission (FTC), who can provide more information for how to proceed. If a company was impersonated, it is also helpful to get in touch with them to prevent more fraud moving forward.

It is also important to remember that there are legitimate companies and organizations that have the ability to send text messages, so long as there was permission given. Political groups and campaigns can send texts without consent, but are not allowed to use autodialing technology to send them. Having the knowledge of what text fraud (or smishing) is and looks like is the best protection. It is always better to be wary of unknown text messages than to fall victim to a text fraud scheme.

Smishing: The Newest Online Fraud – Rammy Barbari – https://whitecollarattorney.net/

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