While most of us using the Internet have clued in to 'phishing' attempts, the fake emails that ask for personal information, there's a new sub-section of that scam which could catch smartphone users off-guard.
Known as "smishing," short for "SMS phishing," users receive an SMS text message that informs them they've won some kind of prize from a legitimate company, accompanied by a link that look like it might lead to a page on the company's site. In reality, it's a means for spammers to collect your personal information in a relatively new way.
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The scam has been around for several years, as this article from Consumer Affairs highlight the issue back in 2006. But with an increasing number of smartphone users worldwide, and the devices themselves becoming more advanced, the need for users to better protect themselves against these scams is growing, too.
As CNET reports, security firm Cloudmark says that about 30 million smishing messages are sent daily in North America and Europe. Cloudmark adds that there has been an almost 400 per cent increase in this type of spam in the U.S. alone over the last year.
If you do receive a message that you are suspicious of, there are a few simple things you can do to make sure you don't become a victim:
- Don't click on any links in the message, as it could lead to malicious content.
- If you're curious if a company really did send out the message, contact that company's customer support line directly. Chances are you won't be the first person to ask them about it.
- Send a message with the spammer's phone number to 7726 (which spells SPAM on a phone's keypad). Providers in North America and worldwide have set up the number as a common way to identify spam and deal with the offending parties.
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For more information and tips on how to protect yourself from smishing and other online scams, you can visit the Government of Canada's Get Cyber Safe website.