Verizon has issued warnings about fraudulent text messages that try to scam you, also called smishing attacks. The nation’s largest wireless provider has urged its customers to pay close attention to messages coming from unknown sources. It has also shared some red flags to watch out for whenever you receive suspicious messages.
Verizon shares tips to identify a potential smishing attack
Smishing or SMS-based phishing is one of the most common forms of fraud. Similar to email phishing, where scammers send emails that look like coming from a reputed organization to trick unsuspecting recipients into giving away sensitive information such as their full name, address, social security number, and banking details, smishing attacks use SMS text messages. These attacks can only victimize people who respond. If you don’t respond to such emails or text messages, attackers cannot harm you. But how to identify a potential smishing attack? Here are some tips from Verizon.
These messages are usually random with no relevance to you or anything you have done recently. Attackers may say that “you’ve won a contest, a prize, free money, or purport that you have an issue with a package”. If you haven’t participated in any contest or haven’t placed an online order recently, it’s certainly a smishing text. Even if you have undertaken any such activity, do not respond in a hurry. Carefully check the source of the message and verify if it’s legitimate. Attackers try to play with your mind by asking you to take immediate action. If a message seems urgent, it’s likely a scam.
Scammers also often impersonate your bank or a government agency to trick you to act fast. They may say that your credit card has been blocked or charged some amount recently, and ask you to provide further information to unblock or reverse the transaction. Always remember that your bank will never ask for sensitive information such as your banking password or PIN. Also, check for any grammatical or spelling errors in such messages. “Real text messages from legitimate businesses will use proper grammar, punctuation, and spelling,” Verizon noted (via).
Look for suspicious links and email addresses
More often than not, phishing messages contain email addresses or links that redirect you to websites run by attackers. These emails and links usually look weird with long text or random numbers. Even if they look relevant to your bank or a government agency, they contain some red flags. A quick search on the internet would give you the official website of your bank. “If the text message contains a suspicious-looking link, it is a text scam,” Verizon said. “Do not click on the link or follow prompts from these fake text messages.”
Some attackers also pretend to be someone you know, like a friend or colleague, and say they are in urgent need of some money, adding that it’s their new number. If you receive such messages, first call the person on the number that’s already saved in your phonebook. You’ll immediately know the truth and can act accordingly. Always make sure to avoid giving away money or sensitive information about yourself to people you don’t know. If you have been scammed, immediately contact your bank or credit card company to stop the transaction.