What the Tech: Beware of ‘smishing’ scams

Published: Jun. 30, 2022 at 5:06 PM EDT
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AUGUSTA, Ga. (WRDW/WAGT) - Police in Ukraine say they busted a cyber-criminal gang accused of stealing over $3 million using a tactic known as ‘smishing’.

The cybercriminals allegedly set up over 400 fake websites to trick people into giving away their credit card information.

Here’s why smishing scams are easy to fall for, even for savvy computer users.

Cyber security experts say smishing attacks doubled in 2021. It’s a phishing scam tricking you into sharing personal information, and the bad guys carry it out through text messages.

Here’s an example: you may have received one like this: “Congratulating on winning a gift certificate,’ and all you have to do is click the link.

Or, you’ve got a package in the mail that can’t be delivered, and because it has a high value, they’ll return it to the warehouse unless you click a link.

Just believable enough to entice someone to click or tap the link. On Twitter, users share photos of smishing texts seemingly sent by AT&T, promising a special gift.

We clicked on one to see what would happen.

We’re taken to a website asking us to sign into my Microsoft Outlook account. We’d be giving that information to a scammer.

A smishing text from a scammer pretending to be your bank or credit card company will ask you to confirm your account information. If you do, you’re handing the keys to your money and credit cards directly to the scammer.

If it’s been around for over a decade, why is the smishing scam on the rise now? Robo-call blocking software and apps cannot block smishing texts. If you receive a text message offering a too-good-to-be-true, or one that claims there’s a problem with an account or a package delivery, delete it.

If you think there’s a possibility it is true, contact that company through its website.

Just a week ago, another suspected smishing gang was broken up in the United Kingdom was accused of stealing over a million dollars from victims through text messages and email.

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