Experts are warning cell phone users that a new text message-based scam is “worse than phishing” attempts. “We are in a situation here where SMS is inherently more dangerous [than email,” says Tessian information security specialist Josh Yavor. Yavor says these new schemes are insidious because texting is much newer than email.
“It’s hard to empower and protect our users and consumers in the same way,” he says. The schemes in question are innocuous-looking text messages that contain URLs and use peculiar language to get people to click on them. If you get any messages from numbers you don’t recognize, avoid clicking on any links they include.
You might be thinking it’s unlikely for you to ever click on a scam link in a text message. After all, why would you fall for such a basic trap? However, criminals are trickier than you think, and they know how to get your guard down. Sure, some messages will be obvious scams, asking you to check out new flavors of gummies or energy drinks.
Other messages employ more finesse, though. They’ll warn you that a package you ordered is held up and needs your digital signature to get past a checkpoint. Or, maybe the message will pose as test results for a recent medical procedure. These devious tricks allow criminals to get you to stop second-guessing and start clicking on the links they want you to see.
When you follow one of these scam links, you’ll find yourself on a webpage that wants things like your login and password for Amazon, your credit card information, or even your bank account numbers. Criminals can use this information to pose as you for online purchases, allowing them to spend your money and run up a huge bill under your name.
However, some criminals are employing even more advanced techniques to steal user data. Some are now including malware in their harmful links.
Some new malware scripts are capable of installing spy software on your phone. These viruses can record audio and video and even send your location information to scammers. This is frightening, as it means that criminals can access all your conversations and track where you are.
Smartphone users should avoid opening any links sent from numbers they don’t recognize. Simply ignore the texts and block the numbers sending them. There’s no reason to hand over your personal information to criminals!