Although the name may not be as familiar as “phishing” which is the name for emails that lure you into clicking on malware infected links or providing personal information that will be used to make you a victim of identity theft, “smishing” is the name given to text messages that lure you into clicking on links or providing personal information in response to a text message from what appears to be a trusted source, such as a company with which you do business.
Smishing scams have increased in frequency over the last year. According to the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) 21% of fraud reports dealt with smishing. Many smishing text messages appearing to come from Amazon, USPS, Federal Express, Cash App, Netflix and others. Like phishing emails, the purpose of a smishing text message is to either lure you into providing personal information that will be used to make you a victim of identity theft or to click on a link in the text message that will download dangerous malware.
Among the topics of smishing text messages are free prizes, gift cards or coupons, credit card offers, student loan assistance, suspicious activity on an account of yours, or a need to update your payment information with a company with which you do business. Smishing emails that appear to come from your bank are also quite common.
As I always say, “trust me, you can’t trust anyone.” You can never be truly sure when you receive a text message seeking personal information such as your credit card number whether or not the email is a scam. The risk of clicking on a link or providing the requested information is just too high. Instead, if you think that the text message might be legitimate, you should contact the company at a telephone number that you know is legitimate and find out whether or not the text message was a scam.
For some reason it appears that Verizon users are being targeted most frequently by smishing scams.
As for Netflix, which has been used as a hook in many recent smishing scams, the real Netflix will never ask in an email or text message for any of your personal information so anytime you get an email or text message purportedly from Netflix asking for your credit card number, Social Security number or any other personal information, it is a scam. Here is a link to Netflix’s security page for information about staying secure in regard to your Netflix account. https://help.netflix.com/en/node/13243
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