Text messaging scams or SMS scams have been a huge issue among mobile phone users for a while now. So much so that we’re terrified every time the phone pings a message tone. And with such scammers getting more creative with their devious plans, there is no telling what your SMS scam, or as the tech world calls it, smishing, would look like anymore.
The most common modus operandi (MO) of these smishing scams are that the person who owns the phone number gets a text from someone pretending to be a person or institution that they trust. This can be anyone that’s either posing to be friend, their bank or telco service provider.
The messages that come in usually have a sense of urgency to them, like unpaid balances to your “telco company”, that is threatening to “cut off your phone line” or even something along the lines of your “bank”, claiming that there is a “huge amount of money being deposited into your account”, however for this to be processed, there will be a “small fee” charged, which you will then need to send to another bank account.
Such MOs are just one of the few of hundreds of scam tactics that scammers have up their sleeves. However, the key to avoid being the victim is to keep vigilant and practice these common ways of preventing SMS or text message scams.
#1 Texting Back
You may be tempted to send a reply back to the scammer to leave you alone. But, did you know that even that could get you into trouble? Most scammers are just trying their luck with phone numbers, fishing out real people from randomly generated phone numbers. You sending them a message just confirms that there indeed is a real person at the other end of the line and your number will be automatically saved to their databases. They will then continue to harass you with more smishing messages and may even escalate to using phone or call scam methods.
#2 Sending Sensitive Information
If you get a text from an unknown number and it starts asking for sensitive information such as your social security number or your bank account and PIN number, you may want to ignore that text message and block the number. Most of these scammers operate under the ruse of being your bank or telco service provider in order to unscrupulously worm your private data out from you. Once they have these vital information, they would almost certainly be able to hack into your bank accounts and other digital payment accounts like Paypal or Venmo.
#3 Clicking On Links
Some of these scam text messages may also contain a link that they would prompt you to click into. Don’t ever make that mistake. The moment you click into it, you would be redirected to a website that will request for your bank account details in order to proceed. The moment you enter those details into the available fields, the scammer would be able to clearly see this and extract the information through your browser cache and cookies. Worse still, the link would silently download an app that secretly sends all the pins and passwords that you enter on your phone, directly to the scammers laptop.
#4 Reporting The Scam
Should you find yourself a victim of text message scams, report it. Firstly, approach your telco service provider and let them know that someone has been sending you such scammy messages. Reporting your situation will give your telco company a chance to alert other users as well. Besides that, you can also escalate the matter to scam and fraud prevention organizations, like Action Fraud or even lodge a police report.
SMS scams or smishing is a real problem that affects millions of mobile phone users around the world and many have lost every single cent they have had to their name because of text message scams like this. Be wary and make sure you only reply to text messages from phone numbers that you are 100% sure of. If you suspect that a local number has been sending you scam messages, a quick phone lookup would be able to tell you who’s been hiding behind these deviant text messages.