Malicious malware and scammers are constantly finding different ways to reach their targets. Whether it is via text scams (Smishing) or voice phone calls (Vishing), it is wise to educate yourself and be smart about what actions you take. As always, the first line of defense against cyber attacks is the user.
SMS or Text Phishing (Smishing)
Many people have had messages arriving as a text from unknown numbers urging you to reply to a number or to click on a link and open it in your phone’s browser. Again, doing so may be harmless, but will more likely insert malware onto your phone – or at least alert scammers to the fact that your number is active and worth targeting again.
These scams can present themselves in many forms. Usually in some form of a misleading offer such as “free” ringtones, sweepstakes offers, something that sounds too good to be true, or a pressing matter from your bank or financial institution.
SMS phishing will use some sort of scare tactic to get you to reply quickly without much time to think about the action. When in the form of a notice from a bank or financial institution, the phisher will request immediate action or your account will be closed. If you feel that your accounts are in danger, look up the company’s customer service phone number online and call them to verify the text.
How to stay safe:
- Use caution when clicking on links sent to you via SMS when coming from unknown senders. You can always Google the sender’s phone number and if it is a scam, there will be multiple reports of the scam online.
- Don’t respond to text messages from numbers that are not complete cell phone numbers (Such as 5000). These kinds of messages are from email to text services, which are popular amongst scammers. However, the Heritage Bank two-way text alerts are a 5-digit number.
- Don’t respond to text messages without verifying who the sender is (again, Google is your friend in this case).
- Don’t call a phone number from an unknown text. This can incur high charges on your phone bill that you won’t be aware of.
- Use caution on free offers or notifications of winning a prize. If the offer sounds too good to be true, it probably is.
Voice phishing – or vishing – has a human element, and it takes many forms. A scammer might call pretending to be your bank, ask for your security details and PIN number, and inform you that your card has been compromised and a courier will be arriving soon with a replacement. Of course, the replacement is a fake, and the scammer gets away with your genuine card and security details.
Even without the physical element, simple voice phishing for login details is common, and surprisingly effective. Your bank will never ask for your PIN, so never give it to anyone that does ask. If you do receive an unexpected call from your bank, tell them you’ll call them back before giving any security details.
The “Grandparent Scam” is also common, where someone calls claiming to be a grandchild in trouble and asks for money to be sent.
One Ring Scams
With this scam, the scammer will call once and hang up, with the objective of luring you into calling the number back. These numbers can be high toll lines, and by calling them you can end up paying a premium rate for the phone call.
Although mobile malware is on the rise, you can keep yourself protected by being smart about what actions you perform on your phone. The first line of defense against cyber attacks is the user. Educate yourself by utilizing these tips and stay up-to-date with security options available on your phone service and/or data plan.