Urgent Alert - Smishing

It seems there’s no time for internet scammers to rest. The reason being, as consumers become increasingly aware of scammers’ attempts to have us send them our personal information, the scammers need to find new ways to scam us. Smishing is one of their most recent methods.

What is Smishing?

Similar to ‘phishing’, smishing occurs when a scammer sends a text message (SMS) to a mobile phone user and that message appears to be from a credible source, such as a bank, a favourite store, a power company or any other known business. There’s usually a sense of urgency to the message and the content tries to trick the recipient into responding right away with personal information that could help the scammer to access the recipient’s bank account or other online information.

For example, a smishing message might read… ‘Dear customer. You need to verify your PIN number by replying to this message. Some of your [bank name] accounts have been compromised. Immediate action is needed.’

Or… ‘Thank you for entering our competition. Congratulations! You have won a $5000 gift card. Visit our website [URL] immediately and enter your winning code — 1279 — to claim your prize.’

While anti-malware software exists for mobile devices, and it may aid in detecting and stopping smishing attempts, 100% protection is never guaranteed. The best possible defence is to be vigilant. Watch for suspicious text messages just as you already watch for suspicious emails.

6 Critical things to look out for.....

  1. Sender's name - The text message you receive may include a name or company which you know or seems legitimate but just because it says it's from a company, doesn't mean that it is.  Look out for spelling mistakes and incorrect capitalisation.
  2. Generic greeting - A real giveaway, if you receive an SMS message that says, 'Dear User' or 'Dear Customer' then it's a fake.
  3. False sense of urgency - Another ploy used by scammers is to threaten your account will be at risk if you do not take action immediately and provide a link.  Legitimate businesses do not ask for personal information to be submitted like this.
  4. Dodgy links - Watch out for links in the text messages, they may look legitimate but will probably send you to a fake site.
  5. If in doubt about the authenticity of a message you’ve received - Call the supposed sender before replying. Watch for messages sent from phone numbers that don’t look real. If you receive a message that just doesn’t look right, even if it’s from a friend, question it. Call the friend and ask if they sent you the message. Scammers are so good they can make a text message look like it’s come from a person you know and trust.
  6. Look for unexpected charges on your mobile phone bill. Avoid entering competitions that require a mobile phone number. Don’t post your mobile phone number in public forums. When shopping online, stick with reputable retailers and think about how you share your personal and financial information with them – only use secure websites.

Why you would be a target....

More of us than ever before are using smartphones to access the internet. This means that the scammers have more incentive to target mobile devices. Scammers use the personal information they obtain to try to steal personal identities. Some scammers then use that information to try to access bank accounts. Others have been known to use the information to blackmail people in order to obtain further personal details or company secrets.

As companies become better at shutting out scam emails, it is likely that the scammers will increasingly turn to smishing. It’s definitely a case of smartphone user be smart in this rapidly changing world!

If you need any assistance with your cyber strategy or you don't know where to start please call us on 1300 478 738 or email us at info@suretyit.com.au.

About the Author

Geoff Stewart is a highly experienced and skilled Technology Director at Surety IT. His knowledge is based on years of industry experience having created customised, stable, well performing systems both for multi-national companies in the UK and Australia and Surety IT customers.

Surety IT can help you create the right system to enhance your business, ensuring you know how it is right for you and how to use it. We will tailor a solution to suit your needs with leading systems, local support and more, building your vision for a more flexible and capable business.

Call us today on  1300 478 738 or email  info@suretyit.com.au to discuss your requirements.