TAMPA – Do you get the texts?
“You’ve won $100!” “Your account’s been locked!” “Do you accept credit cards?”
Those are some of the hundreds of examples of what’s known as “SMiShing,” short for “SMS Phishing.” Think email phishing with text messages.
Crooks will text you from a number you might recognize or a number you don’t. The end goal is always the same - they want your personal information or to get access to your cell phone.
“That's the unfortunate part. It seems so real,” said Tommy Frain.
Frain is a former fraud investigator and also gets those “phishy” text messages. He says he sees “SMiShing” texts on his phone at least once a month. In each case, the “SMiShers” know something about his past catering business and use that to start a conversation.
“Here’s one. ‘I'd like to know if you accept credit card payment?’ And I kind of tongue-in-cheek said, ‘We cannot cater internationally’ because I know that they're not domestic,” Frain laughed.
He laughs at that, but not the potential scam. He says these people are trying to get his personal information, likely to open a credit card account. The red flag in each message he gets is the question about credit cards.
Search the internet and you’ll find plenty of other examples of “SMiShing” messages. Some will include a link and tell you to click it to claim a prize. But click that link and you’ll open your phone to a dangerous download.
“It's when you usually click on links or anything like that that's where you could really open yourself up and, of course, giving away any kind of personal information,” Frain warned.
He says your best bet is to just delete the message. But if you open the message or respond, like Frain sometimes does, you aren’t opening yourself up to anything malicious.
Frain tells us the worst that could happen is getting caught up in a conversation you don’t want to have and you could end up giving up some details that will help the thieves with that end goal: getting your information.
This is the third scam we've warned you about in the last few days. Over the weekend, we posted about a scam targeting Verizon Wireless customers. And on Monday, we warned you about a phone scam being reported by the Hernando County Sheriff's Office.