HOUSTON – By now we’ve all heard of “phishing,” right? Well now there’s a newer threat you should be aware of called “smishing."
"Smishing" cases have been on the rise since they first surfaced a couple of years ago.
In a traditional phishing attack, spam e-mails or other Web messages try to get you to give up personal information by tricking you into thinking you’re responding to an official request from your bank or the government.
Usually these requests ask for sensative information, like your Social Security or credit card numbers.
Smishing is a similar concept, only the messages come to you by SMS text message on your phone. Unaware smartphone users are at an even greater risk because they have the ability to click web links within the text messages.
According to a recent study by security firm Cloudmark, scam artists send around 30 million smishing messages to cell phones across North America and Europe everday. In the United States alone, phone operators say there’s been a 400-percent hike in spam texts in just the first half of 2012.
So how can you protect yourself?
Being aware of the risk is your best bet: never respond to requests for information by phone, e-mail, or text message. Remember: no important entity (e.g. the government, a bank, etc.) will contact you by text message to request personal information.
If you receive a text message you think is a smishing scam, CNET reports you can forward the message to 7726, and your cell phone provider will mark them as abuse.
If you’re the victim of a phishing or smishing attack, you can file a complaint with the Federal Trade Commission at http://www.ftc.gov or call 1-877-4357.