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John T O'Farrell's Commentary On The Digital Space and Online Marketing

Personalization Added to SMS Text Scammers Bag of Tricks

Scammers conducting Smishing (SMS phishing) got a little craftier recently, personalizing their texts, and it’s something you should be on the outlook for. 

Text Scam Personalized_LI.jpg

If you look at the top message (the bottom one is legitimate) you’ll see it opens with “hey it’s Monica...”.   

Typically scams like these have been generic and not personalized. With a name added, you may be inclined to give pause.  If you know someone named Monica, as many of us do, it clearly adds a level of authenticity that generic, non-personalized text scams do not.  And yes, I do know a Monica.

How often have you sent or received a text message that begins, “Hey it’s your name here” when you’re not sure if the recipient has you in their address book or you in theirs?

So, add personalization to the list of reasons people may click on a scammer’s Smishing link.

Hack or playing the odds?

Did the scammers pick a name and hope a lot of people know a Monica or was someone named Monica hacked? I reached out to the one Monica in my contacts to see if we could figure this out.  After she checked with a number of her contacts, we concluded this was the random insertion of a name, that statically speaking, many people will have a corresponding name in their address book.

Super clever with zero cost to the scammers…bravo to them.

What to do if you get a SMS Phishing text:

Never click a link that seems not right, for any reason.  If in doubt reach out to the person you think it may be from using your existing contact information. Never reply directly to a suspect communication.

Block the scammer to your iPhone. Block the scammer to your Android device.

Delete the Smishing text

File a complaint with the FTC