Technology has provided us with myriads of benefits that helped improve our quality of life. However, despite all its perks, technological advancement also has its fair share of downsides. One typical example is the rise of fraudulent activities.
Nowadays, scammers are becoming more and more tech-savvy with their strategies. They use a wider variety of channels, including email, social media messaging platforms, and SMS. With the technologies that they utilize, their crimes are also becoming harder to track.
One of the most common methods for illegally accessing someone’s personal information is SMS scams or “smishing.” It’s basically “phishing,” but only through text messaging.
A Little Background
Years ago, phone call frauds were the most used medium for scammers to try to steal an individual’s personal information, like bank account details, social media passwords, and in extreme cases, the very identity of their victim. However, SMS scams are becoming quite prevalent these days, making it more important to be wary of messages from unknown senders.
It’s also crucial to arm yourself with the right information. By being aware of the types of SMS scams that you may encounter, you will know how to avoid them.With that, let’sdiscuss how to identify what an SMS scam looks like and what to do when you encounter one.
Contain Your Curiosity
Never ever click on any link included in a message you received from an unknown number.Most scammers make use of emotional manipulation to compel their victims. This is why SMS scams typically contain information that piques one’s interest, such as fake promotional materials.
When they catch your curiosity, they may be able to get you to click on a link they provided, which automatically downloads a virus on your phoneor makes you enter your information into a fake website without realizing it.
If you accidentally clicked on a link from a suspected SMS scam, your first option is to install a trusted antivirus app and scan your device. You may also seek assistance from your device’s service center for a more detailed solution.
Never Entertain Suspicious Numbers
Most of the time, scammers are also creative in how they construct their messages; for example, some send a message that says, “Text ‘STOP’ to stop receiving messages,” to get your attention, but do not send a response. When they successfully make you reply, it may result in you receiving even more messages that may force you to give out your personal information.
Remember, SMS scammers don’t really know whether the numbers they’re trying to scam are active or inactive. The best option is to block the suspicious number instantaneously after you receive a text message.
Smartphones are also very efficient nowadays and can easily recognize spam messages. If your phone’s system automatically gives you the option to block the number, it is usually best to do so.
Take Advantage of Your Smartphone’s Security Settings
As discussed previously,the current generation ofsmartphones has built-in features designed to block unwanted calls and text messages. All you have to do is go to Settings and key in “Block” using your phone’s search function.
If you’re an Android phone user, go to System Settings or Message Settings, and on the top right corner of your screen, look for three dots. Click and select “People” and “Options.” Next, click “Block” to stop receiving spam text messages from a number. You may also try long-pressing the number. A prompt will show up, and then look for “Block this number.”
As for iPhone users, in the top right corner of the Spam Message, tap “i,” then touch and hold the number and tap “Block.”
Use VPN on Your Mobile Devices
We have already established that cybercriminals and scammers are now very tech-savvy, and they are not novices in committing fraudulent acts. Hence, it’s best to take extra caution.
Scammers can use your phone’s location and choose you as their next target for smishing attacks. According to Sophos, an internet security company, there is an increase in cyber-criminals who are using location data to bettertarget their victims.
Cybercriminals and scammers are experts in creating fake data, whichthey will send throughsmishing messages that appear local. Thus, spending extra dollars on a VPN service for your mobile will benefit your own security.
Protect Your Personal Information at All Times
As previously discussed, one of the main goals of scammers is to lure you into disclosing your personal information, such as credit card details, the amount of your salary, and your Social Security number.
Sometimes, these scammers level up their game by pretending to be part of a legitimate company or bank. But be vigilant, since most companies will never ever request personal information like account details and passwords via text messages.
The best thing to do when in doubt is to look up the contact details and call the company involved to verify if a legitimate request was made.
Nowadays, it is extremely easy to fall victim to fraudulent activities, so it’s essential to learn how to protect yourself. Be extra careful when dealing with messaging platforms and never disclose sensitive information through unsecured channels.
Alex built Semaphore’s tech backbone and keeps it running smoothly. In his spare time, he grows hydroponic tomatoes and plays video games.