Beware of "Smishing": New Phone Text Scam Targets You—Here's How to Stay Safe

Guard against phone scams! Learn to spot and block "smishing" messages. Protect your info. Report scams to stay safe. Easy tips here.

Dec 17, 2023 - 08:21
Dec 17, 2023 - 08:24
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Beware of "Smishing": New Phone Text Scam Targets You—Here's How to Stay Safe
Beware of Smishing

Your phone is now a hotspot for a sneaky scam known as "smishing." Combining "SMS" and "phishing," scammers use unsolicited text messages to trick you into revealing personal and banking information. It's crucial to be on guard and arm yourself with the knowledge to stay one step ahead of these tricksters.

In the world of smishing, bad actors pretend to be government agencies, companies you know, or even a friendly package delivery service. They'll hit you with urgent messages—maybe about a supposed free gift that requires a tiny "shipping fee," or a warning of suspicious activity in your account. These scammers are clever, and they're after your money.

According to the Federal Trade Commission (FTC), Americans lost a whopping $330 million to smishing scams in 2022, with a median loss of $1,000. These scams work because our phones have trained us to react instantly to incoming messages. Unlike emails, we're glued to our phones 24/7, making us vulnerable targets.

Consider this scenario: a seemingly harmless message from "USPS" claims they can't deliver your package because of a missing house number. It asks you to update online, but once you click, they hit you with a "redelivery fee" trick to snatch your credit card info.

Especially during the holidays, when online shopping is at its peak, these scams can catch you off guard. Amy Nofziger, Director of Fraud Victim Support with AARP, suggests keeping a record of your orders, so you can separate the legit messages from potential scams.

Smishing scam

Protect yourself by:

  • Verify with the Source: Always double-check by calling the company directly using official contact details.

  • Pause for Thought: If a message demands immediate action, take a moment. Scammers want to catch you off guard.

How to Spot a 'Smishing' Message

  • Check Recipients: If the same text goes to many people, especially about a free gift or suspicious activity, be suspicious.

  • Watch for Unsolicited Requests: Legit messages won't ask for your personal info. Be cautious if they do.

  • Beware of Urgency: Scammers want quick responses. Don't fall for the urgency trap.

Blocking 'Smishing' Messages

When a smishing message arrives:

  • Block or Filter Unknowns:

    • On iPhones, go to Settings > Messages > Filter Unknown Senders.

    • For Androids, visit Settings > Blocked numbers > Turn on the Unknown option.

  • Report Smishing:

    • Forward the suspicious message to 7726 (SPAM) to help your provider block similar spam.

  • Use Reporting Tools:

    • Report the smishing attempt to the FTC at reportfraud.ftc.gov.

    • For USPS-related scams, send a screenshot to spam@uspis.gov.

If You've Been 'Smished'

If you've fallen victim:

  • Check for Malware: If you clicked a link, get your device checked for malware.

  • Ignore Follow-Ups: Stop communicating with the scammer, even if they seem friendly.

  • Contact Your Bank: Report any fraud to your bank for investigation.

  • Report the Incident: Notify the financial institution and report the scam to the state attorney general's office.

Stay vigilant, use your common sense, and shield yourself from these cunning smishing scams.

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