Better Business Bureau

‘Smishing' Text Scams on the Rise, BBB Says; Here's How You Can Protect Yourself

In many instances, scammers pose as the CEO or as an executive where you work.

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Suspicious emails may catch your attention rather quickly, but what about odd text messages?

The Better Business Bureau in Chicago is urging people to be on the lookout, explaining there's a new type of texting scam - one that's been very effective.

It's called "smishing," which is similar to phishing. Instead of using fraudulent emails in an attempt to make someone divulge personal information, scammers employ SMS and text messages.

And the number of cases has climbed, according to the BBB.

In many instances, scammers pose as the CEO or as an executive where you work.

According to the BBB, oftentimes the scammer may know your name, where your work and your boss' name, making everything seem so real.

First, you may receive a message like this: "Hi Chris, I’m tied up in a conference call right now but let me know if you get this text. Thanks [your boss’ name].”

If you reply, you'll be asked to perform a quick task like purchasing gift cards for a client or wiring funds to another business. Even if the request sounds reasonable, double-check with your supervisor before taking any action.

Here are additional tips provided by the BBB to protect yourself from such scams:

  • Don’t trust unsolicited messages from unknown numbers. If your boss regularly communicates with you via text message, save their number in your contact list. Don’t respond to potential impersonators reaching out from a different number.
  • Be wary of unusual requests. If your boss has never asked you to buy gift cards, think twice, even if the request comes from a number you’ve saved. Scammers can potentially clone phone numbers and hijack your boss’s number to target employees.
  • Double-check with your boss personally. If a request comes from an unknown number or doesn’t sound right, call or email your boss first, using their accurate contact information, rather than replying to the message. It’s better to double-check than to rush into a scam. Plus, your boss will want to know if they are being impersonated to warn their other employees.
  • If you suspect a scam, don’t reply. If you’re relatively sure a scammer has contacted you, don’t reply to the text message. Replying lets scammers know they have an active phone number and could leave you vulnerable to future attacks. Instead, block the number and delete the message.
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