When scammers go phishing they aren’t hoping to hook any trout on the line. They are trying to get your personal information to either use for themselves or sell on the dark web.
What Is Phishing?
Phishing is when scam artists use deceptive tactics to gather personal information or other sensitive information like bank logins, account or credit card numbers or other important and valuable info. They will pretend to be government agencies, banks, credit card companies, legitimate businesses, Nigerian princes with money troubles, law enforcement, lottery officials, even members of your own family in order to trick information from you. They can also send dangerous links to you that can put a virus on your phone or computer in order to steal your info.
Email Scams Are No Longer The Only Threat
Many of these phishing schemes occurred predominantly through email, phone. MS (text messaging) scams are becoming increasingly popular. Scammers will call or text under a number of guises to either get you to release information or to gain access to the data on your phone. Unfortunately because these scams are so insidious even the most astute individual can fall victim to these text message scams also called smishing (SMS + Phishing).
How They Work
SMS marketing is a popular form of marketing for many companies. Unfortunately, this technology is supposed to connect brands with their customers. However, shady scammers with a phone list they bought can reach tens of thousands of numbers with just a click of a button. There are a few types of scams out there here are some of the most popular.
Get Your Information Scams
Usually the scammers will pretend to be a government agency, bank or other official or reputable source. They will then ask you to follow a link that asks you for your password, login, social security number, account or other information. These links will sound enticing by either scaring you into clicking (something wrong with bank account, you are in legal trouble) or by using things like free offers or serious discounts on expensive items.
Spy/Malware Texting Scams
Like the above scams these involve sending you a link. Once you click on the link spyware is immediately downloaded onto your phone usually without ever alerting you. This spyware has the ability to remotely send scammers your username and password information and just about any other data that’s on your phone.
Get You To Send Them Money Scams
While more popular as a phone scam, some of these scams will alert you to low account balances or late payments and prompt you to send money. They might even pretend to be government officials, law enforcement or loved ones asking to wire money for an emergency.
How To Prevent Becoming A Victim of Text Message Scams
- Don’t respond to suspicious texts. Some spy/malware can be downloaded just by responding to these text messages.
- Don’t click on any suspicious links.
- No government agency or bank will contact you via text asking for your bank information or other personal data. Don’t give your information over via text or phone.
What To Do If You Get A Suspicious Text On Your Phone
- Don’t respond or click on any links in the message.
- Contact local law enforcement to let them know someone is trying to scam you.
- If someone is pretending to be someone you know, but not sure of the number you can do a suspicious text phone number search using Kiwi Searches to verify the owner of the phone number
Protecting yourself from cell phone phishing scams is essential to prevent identity theft or other fraud. People have lost thousands of dollars to these schemes, so don’t think it can’t happen to you. Be vigilant and if it seems off it probably is. Here is some more info on smishing schemes and how to protect yourself.