How do I avoid smishing scams?
For information on what smishing is, how to report it, and how to avoid smishing scams, review the information in this guide.
What is smishing?
Text message or SMS phishing—also called “smishing”—occurs when scam artists use deceptive text messages to lure consumers into providing their personal or financial information. The scam artists that send smishing messages often impersonate a government agency, bank, or other companies to lend legitimacy to their claims. Smishing messages typically ask consumers to provide usernames and passwords, credit and debit card numbers, PINs, or other sensitive information that scam artists can use to commit fraud.
How to report smishing?
- Contact the company or organization that supposedly sent the text, using a phone number or website you know to be legitimate, so it can alert others and work with law enforcement to investigate the activity.
- Forward spam and scam texts to 7726 (SPAM), the spam reporting service run by the mobile industry. This sends the text to your phone carrier to investigate.
- Use tools on your mobile devices or from your carrier to filter or block unwanted messages or unknown senders.
- Report the phishing attack to the FTC at ReportFraud.ftc.gov.
How to avoid smishing scams?
- Never provide your personal or financial information in response to text messages from unknown senders. Government agencies, banks, and other legitimate companies never ask for personal or financial information, like usernames, passwords, PINs, or credit or debit card numbers via text message.
- Don’t be rushed. Smishing scams attempt to create a false sense of urgency by implying that an immediate response is required or that there is a limited time to respond. Verify the identity of the sender and take the time to ask yourself why the sender is asking for your information, then engage them through a trusted site or number.
- Don’t click open links in unsolicited text messages. Clicking the link may infect your mobile device with a virus or malware designed to steal the personal or financial information stored on the device.
- Don’t respond to a smishing message, or call a telephone number listed in an unsolicited text message. Responding, even to ask the sender to stop contacting you, verifies that your phone number is active and that you are willing to open such messages, which may lead to an increase in the unsolicited text messages you receive.
- Use caution when providing your cell phone number or other information on social media. This personal information can be easily bought, sold, and traded, and make you a target for smishing scams.