Mar 16, 2022

A “Phishing” scam is a tactic used to scam people into revealing private information such as bank accounts, credit cards or other personal information that can be used to dupe you out of money.  These scams used to be by phone calls and emails, but thieves have upped their game and are now reaching out through text messages, which is called “smishing”.  These criminals try to trick you into clicking on a link, which could contain malware or lead you to a spoofed (a replica of a trusted) website where you may give up some personal information that could lead to identity fraud, empty your bank account or install malicious software on your phone.  This software can encrypt your files and lock your phone.  In this case the smishers basically hold your phone hostage and demand money in return for granting access back to your phone. 

How do you know the text message is a scam?  Most legitimate businesses will never text you asking for personal information.  Smishing scams also try to create a sense of urgency….”do it now before something bad happens to you”.  (Your account will be closed, you’ll go to jail or offering a time-sensitive prize).  Always take a moment to ponder the legitimacy of the text before clicking that link or replying.  Contact the company or bank directly to make inquiries. 

How can you block unwanted messages?  While most Canadian cell providers have procedures in place to spot spam, they still get through.  If it does slip through, you can alert the phone companies to the scam number by forwarding the message to 7726 (SPAM) with the word SPAM in the subject.  This helps the providers spot new types of spam messages and improve their services.  Always install the latest updates for your phone as the companies are continually working on security improvements.

If you or someone you know has become a victim of a smishing scam, contact the Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre to report it.