As quickly as technology changes, there are scammers poised to take advantage of it. For years, that simply meant tossing out junk mail. When the Internet came along, it was a combination of e-mail scams and fake Web sites. Eventually, the scams got more sophisticated and tricky. If you are like me, the spam folder for your e-mail is filled with junk mail, scams and hoaxes designed to do one thing: get my money.
One such scam is called "phishing." This is when you receive an e-mail that may appear legitimate from a bank or other Web site that tries to get you to click a link inside the e-mail as a means of either delivering malware or a virus to your computer, or gaining access to your financial information. The most sophisticated of these send you to a website that looks exactly like the real thing, but once you put in your username and password or, worse yet, your credit card information, the scammers have you.
Recently I discovered SMiShing, which I didn't even know was a thing. This is similar to phishing except that it is perpetrated on your phone via text message.
It's not all that surprising that scammers and hackers have begun to set their sights on cell phone technology. Like most people, I use my iPhone for dozens of different things and talking on it is only a tiny percentage of that activity.
With SMiShing scams, text messages are sent with messages similar to phishing scams. You are directed to click a link immediately from a dating site that has signed you up and will start charging you if you don't respond or a bank that needs an immediate response to a problem. Often, the phone number for the messages is simply the number 500, which means it originated from an e-mail address, not another phone.
These scams, like phishing, are designed to either infect your phone with malware or capture your credit card information, but some even have the means of installing technology that can capture your actual conversations. It's like something out of a spy movie that I didn't honestly think was real until right now, and suddenly I'm freaking paranoid!
The key, obviously, is don't click on links in text messages you don't recognize. Delete them immediately and all should be fine...unless rogue agents have paired your phone and are listening to your conversations. But, probably not.
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