How to spot and prevent “smishing”

Did you know that smartphone users are three times more likely to fall for fake text messages than computer users? With more than 20 billion text messages sent every day in the United States, a growing number of those are from thieves trying to scam consumers. One such tactic is called “smishing,” short for SMS phishing, which is a fraudulent practice of sending text messages purporting to be from reputable companies in order to induce individuals to reveal personal information.

Common smishing scams

One tactic involves a text warning about a “problem” with one of your accounts and asking for your information to make a correction. In addition, some scammers will pitch offers that seem too good to be true, such as promises of free gifts and trips.

You should not respond to these texts – either by clicking on a link or providing information – because you may end up downloading malware, or become an identity theft victim. The easiest way to avoid being scammed is to delete the message.

How to prevent smishing scams

  • Don’t respond to any suspicious phone numbers; instead, report it, delete it and block the number
  • Beware of the fine print in product or service user agreements that may use your phone number (like mobile apps and free ring-tone offers)
  • Never follow a text’s instructions to push a designated key to opt out of future messages

If you receive a suspicious email/text or suspect your account is compromised, immediately report it to security@usc.edu.

For more information, security tips, pertinent updates and current events, follow us on Slack #TrojanSecure.

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3 Responses

    • Hi Paul,

      Sorry to hear you are having trouble. Are you using USC’s Slack? Everyone on USC Slack should have access.

      Best,
      Julia Plotkina

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