Smishing is a combination of the terms "SMS" and "phishing." It is similar to phishing, but refers to fraudulent messages sent over SMS (text messaging) rather than email.

The goal of smishing is to capture people's personal information. In order to do this, "smishers" send out mass text messages designed to capture the recipients' attention. Some messages may be threatening, e.g., "Visit this URL to avoid being charged $5.00 per day," while others may provide a fake incentive, such as "You have won a free gift card, visit this website to claim your prize." If you click on a link in the text message, you will be directed to a fraudulent website that will ask you to enter your personal information, such as your name, address, phone number, and email address. In some cases, a smishing website will ask you to enter your bank account information or social security number.

Smishing has become increasingly common now that smartphones are widely used. Many smartphones allow you to simply click on a link in a text message to view the website in your phone's browser. This makes text messages an effective "bait" for luring unsuspecting users to fraudulent websites. Therefore, just like when you receive email spam, is best to not visit websites mentioned in text messages from unknown sources.

Updated May 15, 2012 by Per C.

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