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SMS-phishing on the rise, public urged to exercise caution

Cyberattacks cause financial distress, loss of data

By Rayya Al Muheisen - Sep 08,2022 - Last updated at Sep 08,2022

Representative image (Photo courtesy of Du Preez)

AMMAN — Experts warn SMS users of the risks of SMS-phishing, or “smishing”, scams which have the potential to cause immense financial distress as well as loss of private data. 

Digital marketing expert Bayan Odeh told The Jordan Times that smishing is defined as scam text messages that seem to be from legitimate organisations, such as banks, delivery companies and phone networks, which attempt to steal the receiver’s money and personal information.

A widespread smishing attack occurred on Wednesday, when many Jordanians reported receiving a text which said that their “account is worth over $2 million” and has an updated login and password. 

Several people fell for the scam and opened the URL embedded in the text, causing their smartphones to crash. 

“Smishing attacks have been on the rise since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic,” said Odeh.

“This scam has thrived during the pandemic, as shopping moved overwhelmingly online and people receive more deliveries, and started paying their bills online using cards and online bank accounts,” Odeh added.

Ayah Kilani, a senior marketing specialist, told The Jordan Times that fraudsters are getting cleverer and have turned their attention to SMS fraud.

“The main goal of these texts is to trick individuals into revealing their personal information, such as online banking passwords or credit card numbers,” Kilani added. 

People can inadvertently reveal personal data by providing fraudsters with their info or by giving fraudsters access to their phones by opening attached links, she said. 

Kilani noted that smishing is particularly dangerous, as consumers do not expect a simple text message to be unsafe.

SMS open rates are much higher that e-mails or applications’ messages open rates, Kilani added, “… which makes text messages extremely effective in reaching a diverse audience of all ages and walks of life. This seems much more profitable for fraudsters”. 

“Successful smishing could lead to financial distress, the loss of personal data and even software bugs,” she said.  

Despite several attempts by The Jordan Times to contact the Public Security Directorate’s Cybercrime Unit, they were unavailable for comment.

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