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What is SMShing?

July 31st, 2013 by Troy Newport


The term SMShing is a term used to describe phishing text messages (SMS phishing).  While it’s not necessarily a new problem, the newly coined term is.  These phishing text messages are sent to a cell phone in an attempt to get the cell phone owner to give up sensitive information.   Customers of local banking institutions such as Tampa Bay Federal Credit Union have been targets of this type of scam.

The scammers will typically blanket a market (it’s not hard to find out the area code and first 3 digits of cell phone #”s in a region) with text messages telling recipients their account at XYZ Bank has been compromised and their account has been placed on hold.  The message will instruct recipients they need to call a phone # to reactivate their account. 

 Sample message: 
XYZ Bank alert. Debit card locked. Call XXX-XXX-XXXX to unlock it.

If you are a member of that banking institution it can be a jarring message to receive.  However, if you call the phone # provided in the text message you will be connected with the scammers and they will ask you to confirm your account # and all the rest of the information they need to gain entrance into your bank account.   Then you’re left with a drained bank account.

To protect yourself against these types of scams follow these rules of thumb:

1)  Never reply to “urgent” communications by email, phone call, SMS or other method.  Even though it’s an alarming communication you’re receiving, ask for the name of the person calling you and a phone number to reach them back.  If they aren’t willing to provide this information the red flags should be raising.

2)  After receiving an urgent communication of this nature, call the Customer Service phone # on the back of your bank card, credit card, etc.  If it was a legitimate communication they will be able to help you.

 3)  Save the email, SMS or phone # that was used to reach you, this information may be helpful in catching the scammers!

The best advice you can follow is to never trust communications of this nature you receive out of the blue.  The more urgent they make it seem for you to give them information, the more skeptical you should be.  Your financial institution’s website will have more information on how to report attempted fraud.

 

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