Kingston Police warn of ‘smishing’ fraud from alleged mobile carriers

Photo by Alex Ware.

Local police would like the public to be aware that online phishing scams don’t only occur via email – internet criminals also send text messages in an attempt to scam.

The use of text messages or short message service (SMS) for phishing attempts is known as “smishing,” Kingston Police said in a press release on Thursday, Oct. 31, 2019. Most recently, smishing scammers have been sending text messages that appear to come from the would-be victim’s cell phone service provider.

“The message claims they’ve been unable to process your recent payment. To avoid fees, you’re asked to log in and update your information using the link in the text message,” Kingston Police said. “Once you click the link, you’re brought to an identical, but fake, login page for your cell phone service. If you mistakenly enter your credentials, the attackers will have access to your real account, and therefore, your payment information.”

Kingston Police have provided the following tips to help people protect themselves from smishing scams:

  • Links sent through text messages are usually shortened. Therefore, you can’t see where the link will actually take you. If your mobile device allows it, before clicking the link, hold your finger down to see the full web address of where the link will take you.
  • Always log into your online accounts through your phone’s browser or through the mobile application you’ve installed on your phone, instead of clicking an unexpected link.
  • Never use the same password for multiple accounts. If you did fall for a scam such as this you may not even realize it happened, but the attackers would be able to break into all of the accounts where you use the same password.

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