Smishing, and why it’s not always a loving hug

I haven’t deconstructed a scam in a while. No bandwidth, and nothing new coming along. Until tonight.

I got a text purportedly from Uber, a service I haven’t used in months.

Antennae up!

Since I’m socially distancing like a champ, plus I like my own cooking better than most restaurants’, I have no reason to interact with Uber tonight or in the recent past.

They, whoever “they” are, sent me a code, with instructions to text “Stop” if I didn’t want continued contact. What does that do? Tells whoever’s on the other end “here’s a live number.”

Well, no, I don’t want any further contact with these bozos, because they certainly aren’t who they say they are. Uber might send you a code if you’re setting up a new account, but you’d know you did that. Same for anyone else you’re starting to do business with. But out of the blue? Not hardly.

What is smishing? We’ve met phishing, emails trying to get you to click somewhere and divulge passwords and personal info. Smishing? Smash together SMS, one of the systems text messages work on, and phishing, and you get smishing.

This makes me sad. Smishing for me used to mean warm, squishy hugs given over the internet. No longer: it’s a cyber weapon.

So, best course of action? Delete, block, ignore, mentally consign to the outer depths. Texting “Stop” will do anything but. At best you’ll you deluged with “offers”, and at worst, you’ll have connected to a premium number that charges via your phone bill. A sum small enough that you might overlook it, or not find it worth your time to contest. Multiply a buck or two times many people, and it adds up.

Or it might be the kind of premium number that gets expensive fast.

The only way to win is not to play. The easiest way to win is not to play.

If you want the game to not come to you, be wary of giving out your phone number. Everyone asks, but “No” is a complete sentence. “I don’t give it out” is milder. That’s the sentence that’s probably defended me from encountering this scam until now.

And as for that Uber scammer? I hope they develop an itch in a place they can’t scratch.

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