Phone scammers have added a new trick: Smishing
It was bad enough when phone scammers used only phishing attacks. But now they've gone a step further and developed smishing, which is phishing attacks in SMS text, on your mobile phone.
The word itself is a hybrid of "SMS text" and "phishing."
Scammers have learned how to push millions of texts onto smartphones. And they're harder to detect for several reasons.
One is that they have no email address to check – just a four-digit or phone number. Spammers can hide their identity behind a real number through a technique called spoofing. Or they can use a burner phone, which is prepaid, cheap, and disposable. Or they can use email-to-text services.
Another is that by coming in as a text, it's more likely to disarm you. The message is personalized, which helps it override your suspicions. And it's likely to appeal more to your emotions, spurring you to instant action, which is clicking a URL (often but not always a fake website or app) that captures your financial and other private information.
Scammers send out millions of texts at a time, usually undetected, targeting such groups as affiliates of an organization, customers of a specific retail establishment, mobile network subscribers, and even residents of a specific location or region. And time them to arrive when the targets are likely to be busy and distracted.
Here are of the most common forms of smishing attacks:
Financial Services including PayPal, Apple Pay , credit cards, and banks - The fear of losing money makes people fearful, so they're more likely to click the link right away.
Gifts - A reputable retailer or other company texts you about a giveaway contest, shopping rewards, a free gift card, or other free goodies which are time-limited and free.
UPS, Fedex, the USPS, and other delivery services – You receive a text that a package was delayed, rerouted, or needs confirmation.
Invoice or order Confirmation – You get a false confirmation of a recent purchase or an invoice for some service. A link is provided for you contact them to set things straight.
Customer Support – Apple, Google, Amazon, or some other high-tech company supposedly texts you about a problem with your account and gives you steps to resolve it.
The bad news here is the end result if you click can be emptying out your bank account to permitting identity theft with your credit cards. But fortunately, there's also good news.
The best way to protect yourself against smishing attacks in Don't Respond. Even clicking "STOP" will only produce more attacks. You can also:
Slow down – Remain skeptical and proceed cautiously when you receive texts about account updates or limited time offers.
Avoid using any links or contact info in the message.
Check the phone number – Odd-loking phone numbers could me a sign of email-to-text services.
Never keep credit card numbers on your phone – The best way to keep numbers from being stolen from a digital wallet is never to put it there.
Use multi-factor authentication – A password you give to a smishing attacker is useless if the account requires a second code for authentication.
Report all smishing attempts to the important authorities, like the bank's fraud department or the Federal Trade Commission.
Of course, there are other, honest, ways to dissipate your hard-earned assets. Some senior care companies, with the best of intentions, bundle different services into packages. This is fine of you need every single service in the package, but if not, you lose both money and independence over time. Others may lack a way of defining which services you need and which you don’t, with the same result.
That’s not the way we at Senior Insights work. Before we recommend any care, we conduct a thorough three-part assessment of your physical, emotional, cognitive, and psychosocial needs with you and your family. Only then do we create a custom-designed holistic coordinated senior care management plan built around your individual priorities, values, preferences, schedule, hobbies and interests, and trade-offs you’re willing to make. And rather than keep that plan static, our monthly registered nurse visits include mini-needs assessments, to make sure your care matches your needs as they change over time.
Please contact us to lean more about senior care management planning that saves the two costs of unnecessary over-care: the monetary cost and the cost to independence.