Smishing is getting harder to spot – here’s how you can Stop, Challenge and Protect yourself from this sophisticated scam.
Ad feature was written as part of the Take Five to Stop Fraud campaign
I know everyone – including me – is sick of scams.
You need to watch out for smishing, which you may have already been targeted with.
We share how you can stop yourself from getting caught out by smishing texts, explain what to do when you see one, and how you can protect yourself and others from these scams.
What is smishing?
Criminals use text messages to try and trick you.
Have you got a text message from a bank telling you that someone tried to make a payment?
Maybe you’ve had a message from HMRC or the police telling you that you need to pay outstanding tax or you’ll get arrested?
Or it could even be from a delivery company saying they have your parcel.
All the text messages use a fairly simple method to try and con you:
- They try to look like they are from a trusted organisation. These messages could even appear in previous and genuine text threads from the actual organisation.
- They use language to try to scare or panic you, which makes you rush.
- They encourage you to enter your details by clicking a link in the text. The link might take you to a site that looks legitimate but is actually a sophisticated copy of a legitimate website, run by the scammers.
What can you do about it?
When you get a text message asking for personal or financial details, remember to take a moment and:
When a message arrives, don’t click anything.
Take a moment and stop to ask yourself why you’ve received the message. Criminals are experts at impersonating people, organisations and the police. They spend hours researching you for their scams, hoping you’ll let your guard down for just a moment.
Could the message be fake?
While websites might look like the one you’re used to using, it could be a clone. Do the links look strange? Does the URL match that of the genuine organisation?
Are they asking for your personal details or your debit/credit card information?
It’s ok to reject, refuse, or ignore any requests – if they are a legitimate organisation, they will be fine with this.
Remember that only criminals will try to rush or panic you.
If you receive a suspected scam text, report it.
Simply forward the message to 7726 or “SPAM” on your keypad. This can help prevent others from receiving the same smishing text.
If you have entered any personal or financial information, contact your bank immediately on a number that you know to be genuine, either from a statement, the back of your debit or credit card or from their genuine website.
How to forward a text message
It takes all of 30 seconds to forward the message on, and it will be investigated.
The dodgy cloned websites will get shut down to protect others from falling victim to the scam. Think of it as community service :)
Examples of smishing texts
Here are a few examples of what a smishing text looks like.
Have you had a smishing text message recently? Or maybe you’re not sure.
Share them with others here so more people know what to look out for.
Smishing meaning vs phishing
Phishing (pronounced fishing) is when you get an email from someone trying to trick you into parting with your personal or financial information.
You might not have seen as many of these phishing emails lately as email providers kindly chuck them in your junk folder when they spot scams, meaning you don’t need to worry. It’s important to still take care though and not click on links in emails. Access your accounts directly via the website or your app not the link in the text.
Smishing combines “SMS” text messaging with “phishing”.
Now, while we’ve all had smartphones for what seems like forever, criminals are taking advantage to get in the palm of your hand.
Stop, Challenge, Protect
When you get a text message, remember to Take Five and Stop Fraud.
Criminals are experts at impersonating people, organisations and the police. They spend hours researching you for their scams, hoping you’ll let your guard down for just a moment.
Taking a moment to stop and think before parting with your money or information could keep you safe.
Could it be fake? It’s ok to reject, refuse or ignore any requests. Only criminals will try to rush or panic you.
Contact your bank immediately if you think you’ve fallen for a scam and report it to Action Fraud.
If you are in Scotland, please report to Police Scotland directly by calling 101 or Advice Direct Scotland on 0808 164 6000.
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