Smishing is probably one of the most obnoxious technological problems out there. There’s not a lot that can be done to stop all of the annoying messages, and if there were, it would probably block a lot of wanted calls and texts. Due to a recent increase in these texts, this week we’re reminding you loud and clear: do not respond to texts from unknown senders, and never click a link in a text message. In today’s post, we’ll take a second look at text message scams, and let you know how to keep yourself safe even if you can’t stop yourself from being annoyed.

The Big Picture

The FCC has issued Consumer Alerts in the past few years about “robotexts” (named after junk robocalls) which has also been known as smishing (sms + phishing). The text messages are often like scam calls, where the point is to get you to turn over enough personally identifying information to access an account of yours, be it your bank account, Netflix account, Amazon account, etc. Estimates have been reported that say there were more than 150 billion spam texts sent in 2022, resulting in an estimated $326 million in fraud. Even though you can file complaints about this misuse of the telephone system, that doesn’t stop new scam organizations from starting up to do the same.

The Very Detailed Picture

In fact, even if you could stop those messages, it wouldn’t be likely to stop the most pointed and directed messages, which impersonate people in your organization as part of the scam. Crown Computers’ engineers have seen a huge uptick in the past week of social engineering scams, which have more detailed information to make them seem more plausible.

In the most basic version of these scams someone texts you impersonating someone you know, and says that they can’t talk right now. Often, they’ll just ask you to respond if you got the text. The reason why it’s not asking for information or telling you to do something else is that the scammer is assessing your willingness to engage with them. The next steps would be to do something like purchase gift cards or something similar, then give enough details to use said purchase as cash.

What is to be Done?

If it doesn’t seem like there’s much to be done to stop these messages, then, you’re right. They’ll keep coming in one way or another. In fact, many of the scam text messages that you receive probably come from email accounts instead of phone numbers, making them even harder to track or regulate than the phone system.

The only thing to be done is to make sure to not interact with a scammer, click links in text messages, and block the number so they can’t bump a previous message and catch you in a bad moment. If you get a text from someone who says they can’t talk, then you shouldn’t continue interacting with them until you talk to them and verify that it is them. Ultimately, vigilance is the only way to stay safe from these scams, so employee awareness on current scams is more important than ever.

-Written by Derek Jeppsen on Behalf of Sean Goss and Crown Computers Team