New Technology Means New Scams
Posted: Oct 08, 2013
It seems today that there is a scam for everything. After all, crafty and less than moralistic individuals have been coming up with scams all through the ages, attempting to steal and defraud those who are unsuspecting or good-natured. While many old-school scams still exist, new technology has given rise to a whole host of new scams. Chances are you've heard of a phishing scam, in which an email that appears to look like it comes from an official institution and attempts to discover your personal information for the purpose of credit card fraud or identity theft. But in addition to phishing, there are now smishing and vishing scams to worry about as well.
What is Smishing?
You are probably asking yourself, "What is Smishing?" Good question, and you should definitely be aware of the answer, especially if you use a cellular phone or Smartphone. Essentially, SMiShing (note the SMS, a term for texting technology) is the practice of scammers using text messages on phones to acquire personal information, rather than an email. Smishing is a relatively new scam but has been gaining strides as more scammers attempt to capitalize on the many unsuspecting consumers who wouldn't expect such a thing.
Smishing and Vishing Scams are somewhat similar. The vishing scam is more geared towards getting credit card information and bank account access. A vishing scam is named such for its utilization of VoIP technology, in which a scammer can attempt to make several calls at once in order to capitalize on their chances of a successful theft.
Both smishing and vishing scams come as either a text message or a voicemail message on your phone, attempting to appear as though it comes from a legitimate institution, such as your bank, credit card company, or other such organization that may have your credit card and banking information, such as PayPal or EBay. The message may claim one of several things, such as there is some sort of security concern, your account may be restricted, or something else designed to elicit stress and urgency. The message instructs the individual to call a number or visit a website and enter their credit card or banking information, typically along with a username and password, in order to verify their identity and fix the problem.
In reality, the smishing and vishing scams have just successfully managed to steal that information, and can use it to wreak financial havoc in a very short period of time.
How to Prevent Fraud
Once you are aware of smishing and vishing scams, it should be pretty easy to avoid them. There are many ways to prevent fraud; the easiest thing to do when faced with a suspicious email or voicemail message is to simply disregard the email or voicemail, and the contact information provided. Using these links or phone numbers are what the scammers are counting on, because while you may think you are being connected to the actual institution, you are actually contacting a clever scammer.
Instead, call up the institution directly using the contact number you should already have for them, or go to their website directly by typing their web address into your browser rather than clicking on the link provided in the text message. Then you can ask them directly if there is in fact some sort of problem (there usually isn't).
Enhanced ID Fraud Protection
There are many other scams out there, and lots of tricks and methods identity thieves and scammers may use to get your personal information. One way to add another layer of protection and reduce the risk of identity theft is to utilize an enhanced ID fraud protection service. Such a service can monitor your credit and other financial items related to your identity and alert you if any suspicious activity occurs. In some services you may be able to set safeguards against certain actions occurring so that you have a lot less to worry about.
Joy Mali is an active blogger who is fond of writing articles on identity theft and advising people how to identify the theft signs and prevent identity theft. Follow her on Twitter to know more on Smishing Scams.