4 Tips to Keep in Mind to Avoid SMS Scams

From time to time, we receive strange texts from numbers we don’t recognize telling us that our Amazon account has or needs a delivery update or that there is unusual activity detected in our bank account. Texts like these are accompanied with a suspicious looking link that asks you to click to log in. The issue with these messages is that sometimes it could be difficult to tell if it’s a scam when it mentions a company, bank, or other entity we typically interact with. While this may be so, we’ve outlined a few tips for you to keep in mind when you get that suspicious SMS message:

Tip #1: Don’t Click on Links from a Text You Don’t Recognize

It’s important to look out for one of the bigger signs that the text you received could be a scam: if it asks you to click on a link. Usually, you can tell when a link is fraudulent through the domain name. Other times it may be a bit more difficult to assess the link, especially if the company name is used within the link. In whichever case, it’s best practice to just avoid clicking on any such links sent to your phone. If you receive a delivery notification that asks you to check its status through a link, go to your web browser or application instead and log into your account to do so. 

Tip #2: Don’t Reply to Suspicious SMS Messages

Messages that you don’t recognize could ask you to reply “YES” or “NO” or to give them a call about your bank account that was experiencing suspicious activity. In any case, avoid replying back to such messages and note that call to action texts that you don’t recognize could very well be an SMS scam. 

Tip #3: Be Mindful of the Message Content

It’s important to look out for a few tell-tale signs within message content that may reveal the malicious nature of a text. Several things to spot include the greeting message, spelling, grammar, and the link provided. If anything seems out of character through the message, then you’re probably right to think it may be fraudulent. Again, it’s always best to sign into your account through the official website than clicking on a link you’re unsure of – especially if the domain doesn’t appear to be an official company website link. 

Tip #4: Use Your Phone’s Block Feature

To help you avoid receiving any further messages from a sender, iPhones come equipped with the ability to “Report Junk” for texts you don’t recognize. The option appears when your phone recognizes that the number is not part of your contacts list. You can also block a number that sends you malicious messages by pressing on the contact info button at the top of your iMessage, press on the number once more at the top, then scroll to the bottom to press “Block this Caller”.

58,000 Android Users Were Subjected to Stalkerware on Their Phones in 2018

Kaspersky Lab researchers have found that over 58,000 Android users were victim to “stalkerware” on their phones in 2018.

After using an antivirus software provided by Kaspersky Lab, 35,000 users were surprised to find their phones had the stalkerware installed in the first place.

Stalkerware is a surveillance spyware that essentially spies on a user’s device, allowing a malicious actor to look into photo libraries, email and SMS messaging, intercept live calls, etc. It is termed “legal spyware” as legally-registered companies distribute the software for others to track their children’s activities on mobile devices, for example, or even offer employers employee tracking on such devices.

In the case of legitimate applications with the software, users are aware they are being monitored, receiving notification that the application is running in the background. In other cases, illegal spyware can wreak havoc on one’s personal privacy, as some users may fall victim to a hacker’s attempt of installing such spyware onto their device if a user clicks on a malicious link in an email, for example.

Following a blog post on the immorality of “legally” distributed spyware, Kaspersky lab had made it public through its reporting that their Android antivirus software will assist in stalkerware awareness and quarantine for users unknowing of the spyware’s dangers to their privacy. An alert is sent directly to users’ devices notifying them that an application is compromising their sensitive information.

Image Source: Kaspersky Lab