How to spot ‘Smishing’ Scams

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How to spot smishing scams in time

Smishing scams continue to rise, with recent Garda figures reporting a whopping 417% increase in smishing and phishing fraud since 2019. Smishing is where scammers send fraudulent text messages to mobile phones randomly and attempt to get personal or financial details from you.

How to tell it’s a scam.

Scam text messages usually claim to be from a reputable company or organisation that you’re familiar with and trust. They can be hard to spot as the texts may even appear within a genuine thread of text messages you’ve received.

The kinds of trusted organisations being imitated by these thieves include banks, credit card companies, online retailers, delivery companies, utilities, and government bodies. It’s important to know that these organisations will never text you unexpectedly asking for your personal details.

Red flags for smishing

There are certain signs you should be alert for. A typical smishing text message will try to alarm you, claiming you need to take urgent action in order to avoid negative consequences.

For example, you might receive a text message appearing to be from your bank telling you that your bank card, account, or online access has been blocked or frozen due to “unusual activity” or fraudulent transactions.

You’ll be asked to click on a link in the text bringing you to a fake website. Scammers can create very professional looking fake websites that imitate real websites. Once directed to this fake website, you’ll be asked to enter your personal information and bank account details.

Example: eFlow scam

Scammers are targeting the public with text messages pretending to be from a motorway operator. This widely circulated smishing scam tells people that that they owe toll charges to eFlow and directs them to click on a link within the text message to pay the outstanding balance. The website linked to in the text message is not genuine and aims to collect the victim’s bank account details.

See some examples of eFlow fraudulent text messages currently in circulation.

Top Tip

Never click on a link within a text or call a number you are asked to call from a text. Always call businesses on phone numbers that you know to be genuine. For example, with your bank card, the genuine phone number of your bank is printed on it.

If you receive any text message you suspect may be a scam, delete it immediately. If you’re unsure, contact the organisation named to see if the text is genuine. Remember not to use the contact details supplied to you by the texter as these may be fake.

If you have responded to a smishing text message and given your bank account details, notify your bank or card issuer immediately. Your account can be placed on hold and card cancelled if necessary. You should also report it to your local Garda station.