Scamming via text commonly referred to as smishing is on the rise, with the increase use of smart phones, smishing has become an easy way for scammers to cast a wide net for a potential victim. The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) reported that in 2020 they received more than 2.2 million reports of fraud costing individuals more than $3.3 billion, and the phone is the most common method that scammers are utilizing to reach their victims.
Common smishing messages include fake notices about an undeliverable package, suspicious activity on your account, a problem with a recent payment, or the promise of a gift card or free prize if you complete a survey. Since the pandemic, I have seen smishing attempts that have been in regards to stimulus payments, and vaccine information. There is typically a link they want you to click on, or a phone number they need you to call. If you receive such a message and are unsure of its validity, contact the bank, retailer, or business in question directly do not click the link or call the number provided in the message, and never give out your personal or financial information to someone you don’t know. If you are certain the message you have received is a fake, you can block the phone number it came from through your smart phone settings. Unfortunately it is quite easy for scammers to create new numbers, the FTC recommends not responding directly to the messages themselves as scammers are often fishing for live numbers. They do not know if the number they are trying is a live number and if you respond, it will often just increase the number of messages you will receive.
If you find yourself the victim of a fraud, contact your financial institutions right away and make them aware of the situation, and change passwords to sensitive accounts. Go to https://identitytheft.gov/ for additional steps you can take, including how to monitor your credit. You can report all fraud or suspected fraud to https://reportfraud.ftc.gov/#/.
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