October is National Cybersecurity Awareness Month (NCSAM), an initiative dedicated to raising awareness and spreading resources you need to stay safer and more secure online. LITS will be sharing tips and advice all month long to help you understand, secure, and maintain your digital profile.
This week’s topic: Cybercriminals & text messages
When a scammer uses a text instead of an email, it’s another kind of phishing attack called a “smish,” short for SMS phish. Hackers exhaust all options in an effort to trick you. Some scams impersonate companies you already work with, like your bank, phone, or internet/ cable company to name a few. In early 2020 scammers impersonated Verizon for a wide range of smishing attacks leading people to a fake Verizon website.
But you don’t need to be caught unprepared - just like an email phishing scam, a smish will have some telltale signs. Here’s what to watch out for:
- The text is from a 5000 number: Be on the lookout for messages that contain the number "5000" or any number that is not a real phone number. This is a strategy where scammers have masked their identity so their location and identity are not traceable.
- You don’t recognize the number: If you don’t recognize the number, don’t respond. If it’s important, the person or company will use another way to reach you.
- A text that just doesn’t feel quite right: If your spidey sense is tingling that’s a good sign; don’t ignore it! Give the sender a call instead of replying to their text.
- If a text has urgency: Scammers try to scare you into responding immediately. If you get a text that is alarming, even from a company you recognize, don’t respond right away. Take a deep breath, look closely at the text, and then respond by calling the company who sent the message. Don’t use the phone number in the text, but the contact information listed on the company’s website.
- Includes attachments: Attachments from a friend or organization you recognize might even carry malware or a virus - don’t click or open them.
- Asking for personal information: Trustworthy companies never ask for personal information via text. Do not respond!