Watchout for fraudulent texts like the ones from:
1) The “acquaintance” you never met
Some scammers act as someone who appears to know you and lure you in with a friendly message. USA Today reports that the message may look like this: Beautiful weekend coming up. Wanna go out? Sophie gave me your number. Check out my profile here: .
Smishing attempts try to use common names like Don or Ann that aren’t too obvious or hard to pronounce because they want to maintain their not-so-suspicious facade.
2) An urgent message from your bank
Cyber hackers often disguise themselves as trusted institutions like your bank or utility company to sway you into giving up your password, PIN, or other personal credentials. The message may read something like: Dear customer, Bank of America is closing your bank account. Please confirm your PIN at to keep your account activated. Messages of this nature also contain urgent language such as “If you don’t reply within 24 hours, your account will be closed.” Cobb says it’s best to go directly to the company that is purporting to send you this scary message. It may require a call to your bank, but at least you’ll have confirmation from the source that your personal credentials are safe.
3) You’ve won a major award
Everyone loves to win prizes—unless it’s a smish prize, which is more of a win for the hackers and a loss for you. Often times, this type of text will be written as: You’ve won a prize! Go to to claim your $500 Amazon gift card. If you don’t remember entering a contest for anything, do not click on the link, or you may inadvertently be going to a link that downloads malicious code like malware onto your phone, which can damage or disable your phone.
4) The phone number proximity scam
This was an old phone call scam from years ago that tends to make the occasional comeback. Now, scammers have started using texts, too. These texts or phone calls typically come from three-digit area codes that appear to be from the United States, but they’re actually associated with international phone numbers, often in the Caribbean. “Just because it’s coming from your three-digit area code, that doesn’t mean it’s somebody you know,” says Cobb. “There’s actually a number faking service that allows you to do that.” The text often indicates that someone is in danger and needs help, and the criminal will ask you to call or text back. Plus, scammers will do anything to keep you on the line for as long as possible, like using an automated voice messaging service. Since dialing internationally can send your phone bill skyrocketing, that means lots of money in the smishers’ pockets. According to the Federal Trade Commission, people should be aware of messages or calls coming from these area codes: 268, 284, 473, 664, 649, 767, 809, 829, 849, and 876. For numbers you don’t know, don’t pick up or text back. If they really do know you, they’ll reach out again.
In conclusion: Don’t click any suspicious links
The links in smishing scams often contain malicious code that can encrypt your files and lock your phone. If that happens, smishers essentially hold your phone hostage and will demand money in return for access back into your phone. The code may even give them access to all of your personal online accounts. “The text component is important because a lot of accounts we have now are using a text code to authenticate you,” says Cobb. If the bank or Amazon asks for the text code they sent you to authenticate your identity, the hacker could intercept that code and access your account remotely. “It’s also a good idea to update your phone to the latest operating system,” says Cobb. “Most of the operating system upgrades for smartphones include security improvements.”
An additional precautionary step to safeguard your phone is to install a reputable app or software that’s made for mobile device protection. One of these security solutions includes ESET Mobile Security for Android devices, which has an antiphishing feature that prevents you from clicking on links within a message that are malicious. A spokesperson for ESET says, “A product like this is a good layer of security to have in case you are tempted to click, or the scam looks so legit that you don’t even think twice and intuitively click (as many do).”
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