TULSA, Okla. — Smishing attacks can seem suspicious to some, but security experts say one might be surprised at how many people fall for the scam.
Graldia Caine says she receives a lot of smishing text messages.
"I actually get very concerned on how they find my number," Caine says.
Anyone using a cell phone has probably seen suspicious messages with a link attached, trying to get them to click on it. It's called smishing, a blend of the words SMS and phishing, and it's an attempt by cybercrooks to get someone's personal information and money.
The first type is when thieves do research and target a specific person. The second is a spray and pray approach, sending messages to tens of thousands using automated systems, and usually, some of those people take the bait because thieves claim the message is from a cell phone provider or another trusted company.
"If you enter your banking account or your credit card information directly on that site, they'll of course just use that to take your money," says cyber security expert Alex Hamerstone says smishing can be very lucrative.
Hammerstone says smashing can be lucrative, especially if the crooks manage to invade nearly every area of their target's life.
"If you enter other personal information, they may use that, you know, to perform identity theft, or what have you," he says.
The Federal Trade Commission says consumers lost $86 million in 2020 as a result of text scams. But a security company, named Robokiller, estimates the cost to be in the billions because many cases go unreported.
Graldia says she refuses to become a victim.
"Personally, I don't go and click on random links and things like that," she says. "I just be on social media and minding my business."
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