From phishing to smishing

Call me behind the times (actually, please don’t), but I hadn’t heard of smishing until 6:24 this morning, when I received a text message from “Wal-Mart,” directing me to a website and offering me a $1,000 gift card.

A little Googling later, I learned Wal Mart issued a statement on March 9, warning about a “smishing” scam –  a scam that uses SMS text messages to lure customers into divulging personal information. It’s the latest twist on identity theft schemes, capitalizing on the popularity of smartphones.

Smishing usually happens in one of two ways: random, digital dialing or through phone numbers entered when making online purchases, said Tom Bartholomy, president of the Better Business Bureau of Southern Piedmont in Charlotte, N.C., whose group issued a statement warning about the scam.

Online retailers often sell contact information to “like-minded” retailers, and the information moves from business to business “until sooner or later it ends up in the hands of people like this,” he said.

“We hear from a lot of cell phone users who are going ‘This is crazy, I never used to get these kinds of things until a few months ago,’” Bartholomy said.

If your number is on the National Do Not Call Registry, companies shouldn’t be contacting you, but that won’t stop scammers, Bartholomy said.

“When you’re in the scamming business, you’re already breaking the law, you don’t care about the Do Not Call Registry,” he said.

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