You’ve heard of phishing scams, but what about smishing texts? They’re the latest way hackers and scammers are targeting people via text messages…
A smishing text is essentially an SMS version of a phishing scam. Phishing scams have been around since the dawn of email, but smishing scams – the same idea, just done via SMS – are a lot newer and harder to spot.
Smishing, like phishing, is a form of fraud; it is illegal and its purpose is simple: get access to your sensitive and personal information. This could be your bank account details, your social security number, your computer’s password – literally anything.
For this reason, it is super-important to NEVER respond to text messages from unrecognized numbers, especially if they ask you to send over personal details. They might pretend to be your bank, a debt collector, or someone from IT support – this one is really common.
How To Spot a Smishing Text
The first and most obvious way to spot a smishing text is that you will not recognize the number. Most reputable companies now have registered phone numbers, so the number will show up with a company name, say, Natwest or Sky, when the call comes through.
If it’s a smishing text, it’ll just be a random number, one you do not recognize. There might be spelling mistakes too. Bad grammar is also a telltale sign. Big companies spend millions of pounds on their communication efforts; there’s no way they’d send out a text message to a customer that hadn’t been vetted and spell-checked.
Do You Need To Do Anything?
No, just ignore the message. You can report the number, if you suspect it is a smishing scam – there are a variety of places online where you can do this. The ONLY thing you need to do is ensure you do NOT click on anything inside the text message; do not open links, do not click on links, and do not reply.
Just delete the message and block the number.
What Happens If I Clicked On Something?
The best thing to do is change all the passwords to all your major accounts and contact your bank. Obviously, you don’t have to do anything. How you react will depend on the nature of the text. If it relates to your online bank account then it would definitely make sense to speak to your bank immediately. In this respect, you need to use common sense and not panic.
Is there a potential threat? Did you give them any information? If you opened the link, is your phone functioning OK? It might have slipped a virus into your mobile phone, so running some anti-virus software on your phone is probably a good idea.
For the most part, so long as you’re not sending over passwords and bank account details, there’s not too much a scammer can do. Like a vampire, they need to be invited in; if you don’t invite them in, and the best way to do this is to simply ignore them, then you’ll be fine.
Moral of the story? If you don’t recognize the number or aren’t sure about something that comes through via text message on your phone, ignore it – if it is truly important the company will contact you via mail or on a call.
If you think you’re being targeted by a smishing text scam, here’s your checklist to follow:
- Does the text message seem dodgy? If yes, ignore or delete it.
- Do you recognize the number? If not, ignore and delete it.
- Would your bank ever text you? If not, ignore and delete it.
- Does the text claim your account is in danger? Check your account, confirm it is fine, and then ignore and delete the text.
- If you want to report the smishing text, forward it to 7726.
That’s it! Simple, right?
Richard Goodwin has been working as a tech journalist for over 10 years. He is the editor and owner of KnowYourMobile.