Text scams use similar tactics to email scams, where criminals impersonate legitimate companies to gain personal or financial information in order to steal from their intended victims.
Text-based phishing, sometimes called smishing or SMS phishing, is more dangerous than email-based phishing, as it exploits:
- People's tendency to treat text messages with a sense of urgency.
- Few phones have spam and phishing filters on inbound text messages.
- It's difficult on smartphones to check the validity of links before clicking.
How to spot a Text Scam
Text scams can be difficult to spot, particularly if the messages are sent by an organisation who would normally contact you by text. But, like email scams, there are some tell-tale signs. For example, there may be spelling mistakes, or the message may be sent from a different number than previous messages received from the same organisation, or from an overseas number.
An example of a recent text scam in New Zealand is below. This message was in regards to a delivery asking for payment for an unpaid customs charge.
If the consumer clicked on the link they were taken to a website that asked for the consumer’s personal information and their credit card or bank account details.
Stop and think. Is this for real?
Be wary of any text message you're sent that requires you to react by clicking a link or making a phone call.
Never click any links in texts purportedly from your bank, or from any person or organisation that you’re not absolutely sure about. If in doubt, go directly to their website website or app and login as normal. If it is a genuine text you’ll probably have a message on the website or app from that organisation, telling you what to do.
If there’s a number for you to call, check it matches with the one advertised online or on official documents you've received. And if you're asked for personal or financial information hang up immediately.
How to report a Text Scam
- Copy the message and forward it to 7726 (SPAM). This is the DIA’s reporting system for text scams.
- Report the suspected text scam to your telecommunications provider, so they can investigate the matter and block the number if necessary.