"I got a text, did I really win a $100 Walmart gift card?”
“I got a text, my bank says I need to update my information or there is an urgent account problem.”
"I got a text, I can get a cheap mortgage rate.”
Smishing is spam text messages that are sent to cellphones. The real problem arises when you actually respond to these micro-messages. Cellphone texts, 70% of the time, are actually spam messages designed to defraud you in some way. In 2012, smishing tripled in incidents from the year before. Why? Cellphone text messages are fast, cheap, easy and effective. The thieves use inexpensive, hard-to-track prepared phones to transmit a myriad of text come-ons. When the word spreads about the spam of the day -the scammers simply toss the phones they are using and buy new ones. Also, cellphone users are three times more likely to respond to spam than computer users because you almost always have your cellphone with you and answering it becomes more of an “impulse reaction."
Smishing or unwanted text messages are worse than emails for three reasons:
- You can’t delete it without opening it first.
- You have to pay for it (and the senders pay nothing, since they can send text messages from a computer’s email program for nothing.
- There is no way to stop it! You can’t install an anti-SMS spam program on your cellphone.
Can I stop it?
- Check with your carrier about blocking texts that only come from the internet. Your contacts, using their cell phones, can still text you.
- Ignore instructions to text “STOP” or “NO” to prevent future texts. This is a common ploy by scammers to confirm they have a live, active contact for more cellphone spam. Never dial call-back numbers, either.
- Forward texts to 7726 (spam on most keyboards). This will alert your cellphone carrier to block future texts from those numbers.
- Beware of sneaky tricks - like free or cheap downloads. Ringtones are a prime example. Once you download, you have established a “prior business relationship” that allows the provider to legally send cellphone spam text messages.
- File a complaint with the Federal Communications Commission.
- Get on the Do Not Call List by adding your cellphone number, along with your landline phone, at the Do Not Call website or call 888-382-1222.