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What is Smishing?

Last updated on May 15, 2021

Smishing, what is it?

Smishing is a form of phishing that is sent via text messages to your smartphone. Smishing is particularly scary because people tend to be more inclined to trust text messages.

The text messages are intended to lure the recipient into providing their personal or financial information. These text messages may contain links that lead to a website that looks like something official, but it’s not. The criminals behind these scams attempt to disguise themselves as a government agency, bank, retail store, or other company to lend legitimacy to their claims. Often referring to getting something free, if you just click on the link.

Don’t click the link!

Don’t click links in text messages from numbers/people you don’t know — or if you receive a text message from someone you know that doesn’t look like something they would normally send you.

Do not respond, even if the message requests that you “text STOP” to end messages. Doing so will only cause you more problems.

What do the messages look like?

These smishing text messages you may receive might look like a text from a company you do business with, such as (but not limited to) Walmart, Amazon, Netflix, your bank, a mobile provider, your healthcare provider, or even PayPal.

The text will claim that your account has expired or been locked due to suspicious activity, and you need to provide personal information or click on a link to reactivate it. If you do this, you will give the criminals behind these scams the information they need to steal your money or your identity or to infect your device with malware.

A scam text might say you’ve won a lottery prize or a gift card, or it could look like an alert from a government agency such as Social Security or the IRS, or a message from FedEx or the U.S. Postal Service about a package delivery.

The coronavirus pandemic has unleashed a plethora of new schemes, according to the Federal Communications Commission (FCC). Scam texts offer bogus treatments, stimulus funds, supposed government health updates, or warnings that you’ve been exposed to the virus.

For more information about scam calls and texts, visit the FCC Consumer Help Center and the FCC Scam Glossary.

File coronavirus scam complaints online with the Federal Trade Commission.

Published inScams