Protecting Yourself from Cybersecurity Threats – Text Messaging Scams

June 14, 2023   |   Written By Lexicon Bank
Protecting Yourself from Cybersecurity Threats – Text Messaging Scams

As technology continues to dominate many aspects of our lives, the risk of cybercrime has become increasingly prevalent. One of the latest cybersecurity threats that has caught the attention of many individuals is text messaging scamming or smishing. Here, fraudsters send seemingly legitimate messages to unsuspecting individuals, luring them into handing over sensitive personal and financial information. In this blog post, we will discuss text message scamming as a cybersecurity threat and provide you with essential tips to protect yourself from these fraudulent schemes.

Table of Contents

How Does Text Scamming Work?

How to Avoid Becoming a Victim

Additional Things You Can Do

What Should I Do If I Fall Victim to a Text Scam?


How Does Text Scamming Work?

Text message scamming, or smishing, usually involves a scammer sending a text message while pretending to be a legitimate source, such as a financial institution or government agency, to solicit personal information. The message will often look genuine and may ask you to click on a link or call a particular phone number. By doing so, you may end up providing your private information, such as credit card details, passwords, or social security numbers, to the scammers. We have listed below the general steps a scammer will take to try to scam you through text.

  1. Text messages are sent. Scammers send text messages to random phone numbers or large numbers of phone numbers hoping to reach someone who will fall for the scam.

  2. The message appears urgent. Scammers use language that creates a sense of urgency, making the recipient more likely to respond quickly without thinking things through.

  3. A convincing story is told. The message typically contains a convincing story or a reason why the person needs to act quickly. Examples include winning a prize or lottery, a fake charity request, a relative in trouble, or a fake job offer.

  4. Personal information is solicited. The text message will ask the recipient to provide personal information such as a social security number, credit card number, or bank account information.

  5. Payment is requested. The text message may also ask the recipient to make a payment. This could be in the form of an upfront fee to claim a prize or to receive a loan or a donation request from a fake charity.

  6. The scammers disappear. Once the scammers have received the personal information or payment, they disappear, and the victim is left without any recourse.

 

How to Avoid Becoming a Victim

To avoid falling victim to these scams, it is best if you take a proactive approach to protect yourself. First, ensure that you verify the identity and authenticity of the sender before sharing any personal information online. Do not click on any links or download attachments sent by unknown sources as they might contain malware that could compromise your device's security. 

Second, check with the purported company or organization directly, particularly if you're unsure whether the message is genuine. Utilize a trusted phone number available on the official website or on your bank statement to confirm the legitimacy of any messages that ask you to send personal information. A word of caution: beware of fraudulent phone numbers that are increasingly used by scammers to make it appear like they're operating from a legitimate source.


Additional Things to Do to Avoid Becoming a Victim

Enhancing your text message privacy settings is another precautionary measure you can take to protect against text message scams. You can limit the amount of information shared on your device by adjusting the app's privacy settings to limit third-party access.

Finally, ensure that you maintain your device’s updates with the latest software and security patches. Updates typically come with more advanced security features to counter cyber threats and vulnerabilities discovered in previous versions of the software.


What Should I Do If I Fall Victim of a Text Scam?

No one likes to admit that they may have been the victim of a text scam, but it is important to realize it, so you don’t fall victim again. Remember this, if you end up falling victim, these scammers will put you on a list of people that are known to fall for scams, and you will be contacted in even greater numbers in the future. If you fall victim to a text scam, here are some steps you can take:

  • Contact your bank or financial institution. If you provided any financial information, contact your bank or financial institution immediately to report the incident and protect your accounts.

  • Report the scam. Report the incident to the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) by visiting their website, or by calling 1-877-FTC-HELP (1-877-382-4357). You can also report the scam to your mobile carrier.

  • Save the message. Save the text message and any other relevant information related to the scam. This documentation may be useful later if you need to provide evidence of the event.

  • Freeze your credit. Consider placing a freeze on your credit to prevent scammers from opening new accounts in your name.

  • Be cautious of future text messages. Be cautious of future text messages from unknown numbers with offers that seem too good to be true.

Remember, it's essential to act quickly once you realize you've fallen victim to a text scam. Taking these steps can help prevent further damage and protect yourself from future scams. Additionally, educate yourself about common scams to spot them quickly and avoid falling victim in the first place.


Don’t Let Scammers Win. Stay Informed!

As technology advances, so do cybercrime threats. Text message scamming is one of the latest examples of fraudulent activity that individuals should be aware of and take precautionary measures to protect themselves from. By consistently following the above guidelines, you can protect yourself better against potential fraud and attacks. Don't let scammers steal your personal information and compromise your security. Rather, stay informed and proactive to enjoy a safe and secure online experience.

Knowing how to spot a scam, or even better, how to avoid them in the first place, can help save you and your business from an unfortunate financial experience. If you find yourself falling victim to scammers, be sure to contact the associated companies immediately so that they can take appropriate action and reverse any fraudulent charges against you. Being aware of popular phishing scams and other suspicious activities is one of the most important steps that individuals should take in order to ensure their online safety. Though it can be difficult to protect yourself against scams, following these simple tips can help you remain vigilant and alarmed when it comes to preventing online fraud. At Lexicon Bank, we're committed to keeping you informed and safeguarding your financial interests.

 

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