It's the latest high-tech attack and it's coming to cell phones everywhere. Here's the lowdown on smishing and what you can do about it.
Jen Haley is a senior producer at CNET in San Francisco where she directs the news video team. She was a business news producer at CNN in New York for more than a decade and received the Knight-Bagehot Fellowship at Columbia Business School.
We've all heard about phishing attacks -- those spammy e-mails you get in your in-box imploring you to divulge your personal information. Now those annoying scams are coming to a cell phone near you -- it's called smishing, or phishing via SMS text message.
Text messaging is the most common nonvoice use of a mobile phone, and scam artists are taking full advantage of that. In fact, according to security firm Cloudmark , about 30 million smishing messages are sent to cell phone users across North America, Europe, and the U.K. Smishing is part of the much larger SMS spam problem. In the U.S. alone, there has been an almost 400 percent increase in unique SMS spam campaigns in the first half of the year.
There are ways you can protect yourself if you get an unsolicited text message. First, don't click any links that are contained in the text. Never give out any sensitive information such as your address, your Social Security Number, or your bank account number. You can also forward smishing texts to 7726 and your cell phone provider will mark them as abuse. If you think you've been a victim of a smishing attack, file a complaint with the Federal Trade Commission at ftc.gov or call 1-877-HELP (4357).