Beware smishing scams

If you get a text message from what seems to be your credit card company, bank, or IRS, think twice before clicking on links or responding to a phone number. It could be a smishing scam. 

Previously, scammers sent phishing emails that looked like they were coming from your bank, credit card company or some other entity. They had a scary message like your account being locked or hacked, and that you would face dire consequences if you did not immediately click on a link or call a phone number. When you clicked or called a number without checking things out, you learned it was a scam. The smishing scams are basically the same type of scam. the only difference is that the scammer is carrying out the scheme via a text message.

In many cases, the scammers are getting our phone numbers from a random list, and posing as IRS, or a well known bank or credit card company. They do this knowing that people probably have a credit card or an account at one of these banks will believe the message is legitimate. But, a scammer can also get your phone number from a data breaches that may have happened, or as a result of you providing your cell number to a business who then shares it with others for marketing purposes.

We have all seen those offers that give you a freebie if you send a text. Think twice before doing this, unless the freebie is really worth it and you do not mind getting lots of text messages. If you are asked by a business for your cell number, ask if you can provide an email address instead. It is easier to have email messages directed into a promotional or spam folder. If the smishing attempts become more frequent, file a complaint with the Federal Trade Commission. 

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