The Danger of Smishing: How to Recognize and Avoid SMS Phishing Scams

Almost everyone actually already receive smishing attack although some of you might not know about the word before. But this cyberattack is actually very common thing that used by many hackers these days.


Everything That You Need to Know About Smishing

The word smishing itself is created from combining the word SMS with phishing since it is a type of cyberattack which done by sending a scam text message to your mobile. The reason is because most people these days trust text message send to mobile more than they trust email or phone call because they already know that it is a scam. 

This cyberattacks actually a form of psychological manipulation which done through message. Here are some of the factors that the hackers use to manipulate you:

  • Trust
    The hackers will disguise the message that they send as if it comes from a legit company or individual so your will trust the message. Furthermore, most people consider SMS as a communication channel hat is more personal so you will natural lower your defense against threat.
  • Context
    The hackers also disguise the message with situation that is relevant to you so their disguise will be more effective. The message itself will feel more personalized so you will not think that it is a spam.
  • Emotion
    The hackers will try to heighten your emotion so they can override your critical thinking and makes them spur into action rapidly. So, usually the message that you receive will trigger urgency sense so you cannot think logically because they only give you short amount of time.

Furthermore, they will also use phrases that make you feel scared if you do not perform action right at that instance. For example, they will make it sound that if you do not act now then you will be at risk of losing money, getting sued, losing package, or anything in that regards.

The hackers can get your phone number through data breaches of a website or service where you have an account on. When that website or service server is hacked then the hackers will take sensitive data such as customer’s data with your phone number on it. Then they will sell the data on dark web where other hacker can purchase that data to do smishing.

The goal of this cyberattack is so you will perform action described in the message. The hackers that use this attack usually do it to gain something from you such as money, personal information, or your company’s information. Here are some of the things that the hackers include in the message to gain benefits:

  • Link to download malware
    The message that the hacker send to you can have links. Then when you click on the link it will trigger your device to download malware automatically. Through this malware they can hack your device to take personal data, account and even financial benefits by hacking to the financial app in your device.
  • Link to a form or fake website
    Sometimes the message will have a link that direct you to an online form or a fake website. Then they will try to make you fill in your information into the form or the wake website. That way, they can take your real account to perform malicious activities.
  • Personalized message
    To make the message more personal they might already perform some research on you beforehand. For example, they will see some of your activities in social media so they will know more information about you. Then they will use the information to create a more personalized message to lower your defense.
  • Referrals to fake customer service
    The hackers can also create an urgent message with a fake customer service number that will help you with the problem. Then when you call that number there will be someone who pretend to be a legit customer service. But they will guide you to perform action that will benefit them such as asking you to send money, asking you to install malware application, or asking you to give some information.

Read More Spotting and Reporting Phishing Emails

Common Smishing Types That You Might Encounter

There are many types of smishing that the hacker uses to scam you. They will follow the newest trend so they can scam you with something that is relevant to people today. Here are some of the common types that you might encounter:

  • COVID-19 scam
    In this type the hackers try to scam people who are affected by COVID-19. They usually disguise themselves as health care agent or even government agent. They will send you a message saying something about a new information that you should view or a way so you can claim a free financial aid.
  • Financial service scam
    Hackers use the fact where almost everyone are all using credit card or bank in managing their finance. So, in the message that they send the hackers will usually disguise themselves as legit bank institution or other financial service so they can take your sensitive information such as account, SSN, phone number, address, email, password and many other.
  • Confirmation scam
    The message that the hackers send will contain some request for you to confirm something within short amount of time or something bad will happen. Usually, it is something that most people do regularly such as bill invoice, upcoming appointment, package delivery, online order and many other. In the message they will put a link that will direct you to a fake website where they ask you to fill your sensitive data or login credential as confirmation.
  • Customer support scam
    On this type of smishing, the hackers will send message pretending as a representative of a popular retailers or online business that most people use. They will tell you that there are some issues with an order or even your count. They will also ask you to contact them through a fake customer service number if you want o solve the issue.
  • Free gift scam
    You might already receive some message like this where they will tell you that you have won a free gift or giveaway. Then to claim the gift you need to contact them through a link that they give in the message. The link can be use to either install malware into your device or to take your personal information.

How to Protect Yourself from Smishing

Do not click any link send in SMS. 

If you want to visit a website then go to your browser and search the official website using a search engine. That way you will surely visit the legit website instead of a fake one that they send through the message.

Do not call or message any number send in SMS. 

If you actually use a service that mention in the SMS that you receive then do not call the number that they send. Instead use a search engine to find the official website then see the legit way to contact the customer service.

Do not download anything send to you in the SMS. 

Sometimes the hackers will try to disguise the malware app as other type of file. So, you should not download anything that send to you even if it is just a picture, document, text or many other files.

Do not respond to suspicious message.

Some message that the hackers send is very simple like asking you to send them STOP if you want to unsubscribe to something. But this is actually a method that they use to see if your phone number is active and if you are not suspicious to this kind of message.

Be wary if you receive a message that make trigger your urgency sense. 

Most of the message that the hacker send to you will make you feel as if you will lose something if you do not perform action within short amount of time. So, if you receive this type of message then most likely it is a smishing message.

Do not share any sensitive information

Hackers will try to take sensitive information using the SMS. That is why, you should not share any sensitive information to anyone. Legit company or even the government would never ask you to give sensitive information. So, no matter what happen do not share sensitive information to them.

Use spam text blocker tool.

Because of the advancement of technology we have these days, there are actually some tools that you can use to block the spam message. These apps come with various feature such as blacklist numbers, prevent calls, and many other. 

Install security software.

It is important for you to secure your device and the best way that you can do to do it is to install security software. There are a few numbers of software that you can use such as antivirus, antimalware, VPN, and many other. The software can help to protect you from installing malware, or accessing malicious links.


As you can see, smishing comes in various types and method. The hackers make use of your natural human emotion to try and trick you to perform some action. That is why, you need to be very careful to not become the victim of this attack. 

Tags: smishing, smishing types, smishing method, smishing example, avoid smishing,

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