Have You Been 'Smished'?

Texters, beware. Scammers have a cell phone trick that won’t make you LOL.

A smishing scam sent to an MLT staffer's cell phone.That next text message could cost you—and I’m not talking about a cell phone charge. Scam artists are hard at work with a technique called “SMiShing.” The name comes from SMS, or short message service. Texting is a form of SMS, and smishing is like phishing (e-mail scams), only via cell.

Maybe you’ve already been “smished,” and don’t know it. The scam has been around since 2006, but it’s just erupted because of the recent upsurge in wireless devices, says professor Glenn Booker of the iSchool at Drexel University. The scammers usually tell you you’ve won a prize, or maybe something has happened to your debit card and you need to respond a.s.a.p.

The goal is to get your personal information (and make money)—so don’t respond. At the end of the text, there’s usually a message that says to text back a word like “STOP,” if you’re not interested in this or future offers. Don’t do it! That just lets them know they’ve hit an active phone. The best advice from the experts: Hit delete.

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For Tracy Davidson’s Consumer Watch video on this subject, click here.

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