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  • Writer's pictureAudrey Fontelas

What are the risks behind SMS messaging?

SMS may be known by other names, such as Short Message Service, short message service, torpedo or text message. However, do you know the dangers that can exist through them?

Criminals use this tool to impersonate banks or organizations to scam and defraud people. They can use emotional triggers, especially urgency, to arouse people's desperation.

In this way, people end up passing on their sensitive and personal data to cybercriminals and thus fall into traps.

In the United States, the Federal Trade Commission has received more than 5.88 million fraud reports in recent years, an increase of 19%, and the associated financial losses have reached $6.1 billion.

In addition to scams, SMS can cause security risks for social media accounts with two-factor authentication. If hackers manage to access the phone number, they can access the electronic accounts via SMS.

However, there are ways to avoid falling for SMS scams. Read on and find out how to stay safe in the digital world.

How do criminals use SMS for scams?

SMS can often be used to receive news, warnings, and confirmation codes. So when you receive a message you need to pay attention to differentiate the types of content.

There are some scams that are circulating in the digital world that use SMS as a means of communication, such as the fake employment scam.

The criminals pose as employees of an organization and send a message about a fake job offer, asking the person to click on the link and apply for the position.

However, when the person clicks on this malicious link, known as phishing, they are directed to a fake website and as soon as they fill out the information, their data can be directed to the criminal.

According to a report produced by ThreatLabz, there has been a 47.2% increase in phishing attacks in the past year. Thus, cybercriminals exploit vulnerabilities in email, SMS, and phone calls to apply attacks.

Besides the aforementioned scam, SMS can be used to share fake news, which can increase misinformation among people. Therefore, people need to be cautious before spreading content on digital media.

However, the scam that has been standing out among the other attacks are the frauds involving financial institutions.

Increase in bank scams via SMS

According to the report produced by the Boston Consulting Group, financial organizations are 300 times more likely to be the target of a cyber attack.

Also in the report, the cost of cyber attacks on the banking industry reached $18.3 million last year and trends point to a growth in worldwide financial loss.

In this way, cybercriminals send elaborate text messages posing as bank employees with names, logos and phone numbers that appear to be similar to the original to trick people.

The messages are intended to cause urgency by claiming suspicious activity, such as a blocked card, a negative balance, or even a special offer. When the person receives the message, they may take action without thinking.

These messages usually contain a malicious link to a fake website or a phone number to contact a supposed bank call center.

One protection tip is to be careful with personal information and not give it to strangers or fill out forms with your data.

Can all these scams be characterized as SMishing?

SMiShing consists of fraudulent text messages on different topics, e.g. financial aid. As a variation of phishing, smishing exploits people's naïveté and inattention.

By clicking on the malicious links, people can open doors for criminals to carry out cyber attacks against them.

So if the scam has the characteristics mentioned, it can be considered a variation of the phishing attack, SMishing. But there is another concern involving the text message.

Why SMS authentication can put digital security at risk?

Lately old scams are being improved and renewed by criminals, among them the portability scam.

Hackers use people's leaked data to contact the operator's call center and request the portability of the phone number to another person.

This way, the person loses his phone signal and cannot use the mobile network. If your social networks have two-factor authentication connected to SMS, you may lose access to your accounts.

To protect yourself, use authenticating applications, which can be more secure.

This way you ensure security and privacy on social networks. In addition, there are some ways that can be followed to avoid falling into the criminals' traps.

Ways to protect yourself from SMS scams

To protect yourself from scams and fraud there are a few ways, such as not clicking on links embedded in the messages. This way you can decrease the chances of falling into a phishing attack.

Another important point is not to provide your information to strangers or fill out unsolicited forms. The data can be used against you to steal your money, for example.

The third tip is to watch out for any suspicious activity in your bank accounts, phone lines or social networks. Look immediately for a store of your service provider, bank branch, or contact the social network's own call center.

Do not despair or take any action on impulse, be calm and seek information on credible and reliable information portals.

Another way to protect and preserve your reputation on social networks is not to share news without checking the veracity of the facts. So, before you spread the information on the Internet, try to check in other media.

Ensure your safety in the digital world

In this article we have seen that there are some scams involving SMS messages and the digital world, such as the fake employment scam.

So, don't forget to put the safety tips presented above into practice. Thinking of increasing your internet protection, why not strengthen your social networks?

We have prepared for you a new article to increase your security on Instagram, for example, by temporarily limiting unwanted comments and messages.

To learn more about the security tips you can use on Instagram, click here.

In the background of the image we have a woman sitting in a wheelchair using her smartphone. In the front of the image we have the caption "What are the risks that exist behind SMS messages?"
What are the risks behind SMS messages?

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