17 Jan 2011

Smishing is a text message buyers should avoid

Online shoppers now must be aware of a new phishing scam that tricks them with their phones rather than emails, pop-up advertisements or social media messages.

The scam, called smishing, uses text messages claiming to offer deals from trusted sources to steal account information and passwords. The victim is asked to call a toll-free number and are greeted with an automated voice-response.

Consumers are more likely to trust text messages than emails, so it seems like a reliable deal.

"It works because people don't give their cell-phone numbers out," says Brian Krebs of an online security site. "If someone has my cell number, I figure it's someone I know."

The callback number is a local are code and not an 800 number, further enticing people to believe the deal is for real.

With Internet fraud on the rise, consumers are advised to take extreme precautions. According to the Internet Crime Complaint Center - a joint operation between the FBI and National White Collar Crime Center - Internet fraud jumped 22 percent last year.