SPRINGFIELD, Mo. Hackers are changing with the times. They’re not just going after you through your computer but now through your cellphone.
It’s known as SMShing pronounced smishing. The term combines SMS texting and online phishing scams with the end goal of ripping you off.
Most people are unfamiliar with this.
“It sounds like fishing to me. Going fishing says Eulym Holmes.
Olivia Marksberry says, “Sounds like smushing something. Like Play-Doh.”
“I’m thinking about fishing,” explains Paul Nahon Jr.
The name sounds silly but the threat to you is serious.
Cybercrime expert Shannon McMurtrey explains.
“Social engineering. That’s a term that means using people skills to hack people. So instead of trying to hack computers, you’re trying to hack people,” he explains.
It’s like phishing fishing scam. You get what looks like a legitimate email from your bank, you’re the favorite online store or another organization you’re familiar with. Behind the fake emails are criminals who are trying to lure important personal information from you.
“All of them are based on the idea of trying to trick people into divulging information that they wouldn’t otherwise,” says McMurtrey.
Since most of us have caught onto those scams thieves are now trying to defraud us through our cellphones.
McMurtrey says, “It may look like it’s coming from a trusted source but that’s pretty easy to fake.”
This is what to watch out for:
Text messages that appear to come from your bank or credit card company with urgent messages asking you to verify your PIN. Some messages may say your account has been breached. You will often see a link that will direct you to a website where criminals are waiting to steal your identity.
Other SMShing text messages may say you’ve won something. This message will typically include a link asking you to click on it to claim your prize.
“As much as I hate to advise to be paranoid that’s really what it comes down to is really keeping your guard up at all times with any kind of communication that’s electronic,” says McMurtrey.
There are ways to protect yourself.
If the text looks suspicious, it’s probably a scam. Delete it immediately and try blocking the phone number.
Also, make sure you have anti-virus software installed on your cellphone. It will protect your device as it does your computer.
Keep your mobile phone number to yourself. Don’t use it when entering contests online. Also, don’t post it on social media.
“So many people aren’t aware of it. They don’t even realize it’s happening,” says McMurtrey.
If you use your smartphone to shop online, stick to using the site’s mobile app.
If using a web address make sure the URL starts with HTTPS. The ‘s’ means the site is secure. Be sure to look for a picture of a lock in the web browser. That’s another sign that it’s secure.
You may also want to pay close attention to your cellphone bill. If you notice any suspicious charges your information may have been compromised. Call your provider if that happens.