Scam of the day – June 19, 2013 – Smishing gets worse

Many of you may be unfamiliar with the term “smishing” which is described in detail in my book “50 Ways to Protect Your Identity in a Digital Age,” however, you are probably familiar with the term “phishing” which describes the scam by which identity thieves will trick you in an email that appears to come from a person, company or governmental agency to go by way of clicking on a link to a phony website that appears to be that of a legitimate company or governmental agency.  There you are either tricked into providing personal information that becomes used to make you a victim of identity theft or by merely clicking on the misleading link, you unwittingly download a keystroke logging malware program that reads and steals all of the personal information from your computer and proceeds to make you a victim of identity theft.  Smishing is the latest development in this scam.  Rather than coming to you by way of an email,  a smishing attack delivers the scam to you through a text message, which is technically a “short message service” (SMS) hence smishing.  Often the phony text message appears to be from your bank, telling you for whatever reason, you need to provide personal information.  You may be told that you need to provide the information due to a security breach at the bank or for any other reason that may appear legitimate.  However, it never is.  Instead you will either be pumped for personal information or unknowingly download the keystroke logging malware.

TIPS
Never respond directly to these text messages.  Don’t text “stop” or “no” as sometimes suggested.  Doing so only alerts the identity thieves that they have a real  and active smartphone number. Instead forward the text to 7726, which spells SPAM on your keyboard.  You can never be sure when you receive a text message asking for information if the sender is who he or she says he or she is and even if the message originates with a legitimate smartphone, you can’t be sure that the legitimate smartphone was not hacked into and the message you receive is from an identity thief.  If you ever have the slightest thought that the text message may be a legitimate message from your bank or any other entity with which you do business, you should contact the bank or other entity directly at a number that you know is correct to inquire about the text message.