SMS Phishing Scams : Image Source: Webroot

SMS Phishing Scams Explained and How to Avoid Them

In this day and age of modern technology, scamming is a common trend. Scammers use many techniques to defraud their victims. The use of text messages is a common method that is used by scammers to trick you into giving them your personal details. They may ask you to confirm your banking details or ask for your password. With this information, they may hack your accounts, access your bank account and steal money or even your identity. This method is called SMS phishing or smishing. The word ‘smishing’ comes about because the two words would have been combined as shown below:

Sms+ phishing =   smishing

Scammers use SMS messages more as they are aware that around 98% of SMS messages are read within seconds of being received. This means there is a higher chance of people responding to these seemingly genuine messages and getting scammed. 

Tactics used by scammers when SMS phishing

  • They use familiar company names so that it looks like they are from a company that you trust. Sometimes they even pretend to be someone you know. For example, they look like they are from your bank, online payment app or even from a social networking site.
  • Sms phishing scammers tell a story to try and trick you into opening an attachment or clicking on a link. For instance, the text message may state that there is a problem with your payment information or account. They will request you to confirm some personal details. The most common is when they say they have noticed some log-in attempts or suspicious activity on your account.
  • Some scammers request you to click on a link or give them your bank account number or passwords. If you make the mistake of clicking on the link, they will steal your personal information or money.
  • Pressure you to respond and take action instantly.

Sms phishing scam tip-offs to look-out for

  • When the person asks for your personal information like banking details, passwords
  • When you don’t have an account or have never associated yourself with the company
  • Grammatical errors and too many spelling mistakes in the message

How to avoid SMS phishing scammers

You can avoid SMS phishing scammers by checking them out and cross-referencing the message that you would have received. It is important that you verify their authenticity before you respond and give them the information they will be seeking. You can do so by;

  • Searching for the phone number of the company, check out the company’s website and official social media pages. More importantly, search for the person that contacted you.
  • Directly call the company or the person who would have sent you the message. Use the correct contact details not the ones in the text message.

NB* Do not believe every text message you receive at prima facie. You should be a skeptic and always seek out to find out before you take any action.

Tips to avoid by Getting Scammed in SMS Phishing

  1. If you recognize an SMS phishing, report the message and delete it.
  2. Do not just click on any link before verifying its authenticity. Some links and attachments contain dangerous malware.
  3. If it so happens that you have clicked on the link already that downloaded a harmful software. You can simply update your device security software and run a scan.
  4. Do not use compromised passwords for any other accounts. It is best to change and create another strong password.
  5. Keep your device security up to date and often back up your data.
  6. Use multi-factor authentication. This is safer as it requires you to verify who you are. For example, a text message with a code.

In conclusion, scammers use so many techniques so that they extract the information they will be seeking. They trick people into divulging sensitive information and use those details for their own personal gain. Luckily there are a number of ways to identify and precautions you can take to avoid and protect yourself from getting scammed.

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