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Smishing, vishing, and phishing… oh my!

These three criminal identity theft schemes reflect today’s ever-changing technological environment, and criminals’ ability to target all demographics.

What’s the difference between the scams?

All three categories are generally defined as “criminal activity that attempts to fraudulently obtain sensitive information.” The difference is in the methodology.

  • Phishing – generally emails, either a series or just one, imitating your bank, credit card company or other financial institution in an attempt to gather your account information
  • Vishing – fraudulent phone call looking to collect personal information by impersonating a financial institution or someone in need of help
  • SMiShing – encompasses fraudulent text messages that include fraudulent or virus-ridden website links or phone numbers directly to the fraudsters

Common ways thieves try to fool you

  • Inform consumers that their financial accounts may be compromised.
  • Convince the consumer to act quickly to resolve the “issue”.
  • Prey on the fears of the victim – such as a family member in danger or claim to help you prevent identity theft.
  • “For verification purposes,” ask you to confirm your account numbers, user names and/or passwords.

How to protect yourself… back to basics

  1. Never reply to a suspicious text without verifying the source.
  2. Beware of messages from a “5000” or any number that is not a cell number.
  3. Review bank & credit card company’s policies on sending text messages.
  4. Enable the “block texts from the Internet” feature if available from your cell provider.
  5. Never reply “STOP” to suspicious texts. This will confirm to the sender that your number is valid and you may be targeted for more scams.
  6. Consider answering (or not) calls from a number you do not recognize.