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Posted by Onyx IT ● Oct 6, 2022 7:00:00 AM

How many text messages do you receive from companies today compared to about two years ago? If you're like many people, it's quite a few more.

That's because retailers have moved to bypass crowded email inboxes. They're asking consumers to sign up for SMS notifications for tracking and sales alerts. The medical industry has also joined the trend. Pharmacies are sending automated refill notifications and doctors' offices are sending SMS appointment reminders.

These types of texts can be very convenient. But retail stores and doctor's offices aren't the only ones using text messages to attract attention. Cybercriminals also use text messages to send phishing messages.

Phishing via SMS is called "smishing" and is becoming a major problem.


In 2020, smishing increased by 328%, and in the first six months of 2021, it increased by nearly 700%. Phishing via SMS has become a major risk area. Especially as companies adapt their data security to an increasingly mobile workforce.


How Can I Text Myself?

If you have not received a text message with your own phone number as the sender yet, you probably will soon. This smishing scam is quickly making the rounds and causing a lot of confusion. Confusion is good for scammers. It often prompts people to click on a malicious link in a message to get more details.

Cybercriminals can make it appear that a text message they sent you is from your number. To do this, they use VoIP connections and clever spoofing software.

If you see this, it is a clear sign that it is an SMS phishing scam. You should not respond to the message in any way and delete it instead. Some providers also offer the option to delete and report fraudulent SMS.


Be Aware of These Popular Smishing Scams

Smishing is very dangerous right now because many people are not aware of it. There is a false sense of security. People think that only those to whom they have given their phone number have it.

But that is not the case. Cell phone numbers are available through both legal and illegal methods. Advertisers can buy lists of them online. Privacy breaches that expose customer information are for sale on the dark web. This includes mobile phone numbers.

Less than 35% of the population is familiar with the term "smishing".

It is important to understand that phishing email scams are transforming. They have evolved into SMS scams that may look different and be harder to detect.

For example, you cannot check the email address to see if it is legitimate. Most people will not know the legitimate number that the Amazon shipping updates are coming from.

Text messages also often use these shortened URLs. These disguise the true URL and it's not as easy to hover over the URL to see it on a phone as it is on a computer.

You need to be aware of what is out there. Here are some of the most popular phishing scams you may soon see in your own text messages.


Delivery Problems

Who does not love getting packages? This scam takes advantage of that fact and pretends to be from a well-known shipper like USPS or FedEx. It says that there is a package held up for delivery to you and you have to provide more additional details.

The link may take users to a form that collects personal information for identity theft. One tactic of this scam is to ask for a small amount of money to release a package. The scammers created the website to obtain your credit card number.


Fake Appointment Scheduling

This scam happened to a community in South Carolina. There, AT&T fiber optic internet lines were recently installed in the neighborhood. After the installation, AT&T ran a canvass to get people to sign up for the service.

During this time, a homeowner reported receiving a text message. It purported to be from AT&T to make an appointment for his fiber optic internet installation. He found the message suspicious because the address provided was incorrect. The scammer wanted him to send back personal details.


Receive Your Free Gift

One more example of a smishing scam is a text message that doesn’t show who is the sender. It says, “Thank you for your recent payment. Please receive your free gift.” It includes a link at the bottom of the message.

This is a common scam that many have noticed online. And it is an example of a scammer taking advantage of a common fact. The fact that most people have paid some bills recently and mistakenly think the SMS is from a company they know.


Does Your Mobile Device Have the Security It Needs

Smishing scams can easily infect your device with malware. Do you have the proper security precautions (mobile antivirus, DNS filtering, etc.)?

If not, contact ONYX IT now. We can help!


Article used with permission from The Technology Press.