Beware of Smishing Scams
You’re probably already aware of phishing scams, but have you heard of “smishing?” The word “smishing,” a combination of SMS (an abbreviation for the texting technology known as Short Message Service) and phishing, refers to using text messages on mobile devices to steal personal or financial information.
Smishing texts try to convince the recipient that text is coming from a trusted source. Usually, they will indicate that immediate action is required to secure a benefit or resolve a problem. The ultimate goal of the text is to trick the recipient into revealing personal information, such as credit card numbers or account passwords. Examples of typical smishing text messages are:
- A message that looks it is has come from a bank, cell phone company, online shopping service, or streaming service, which claims that your account has expired or has been locked
- A message that tells you that you’ve won a prize
- A message offering you a break on student loan debt
- A message that looks like an alert from a government agency such as the Social Security Administration or IRS
- A message that appears to be from FedEx, UPS, or the USPS, regarding package delivery
- A text offering Coronavirus treatments, vaccinations, or stimulus funds, or warning that you have been exposed to the virus
Smishing text messages will often ask you to (1) click a link to resolve a problem, access a service, or receive a benefit; or (2) request personal information, such as your Social Security Number, account number, or account password.
If you receive a suspicious text message, do not provide personal or financial data, and do not click on any links in the message. Do not reply to the text message, even if the message tells you to reply with “STOP” to avoid future contact. Remember that even if a text message appears to come from a government agency or a company you do business with, the scammers may have used special technology to make the text appear to come from a trusted source. If you are concerned that there may be a genuine problem with an order, account, or payment referenced in the text, make direct contact with the company or agency that appears to have sent the text. Use a verified telephone number or website address rather than one provided in the text message.
To learn more about smishing or to report a smishing attempt, contact the Federal Trade Commission at consumer.ftc.gov/articles/how-recognize-and-report-spam-text-messages.