What is ‘smishing’ and how can you avoid falling for it?

ORLANDO, Fla. — Have you ever gotten a text message with a link from a number you don’t know?

It may have been a relatively new kind of cyber fraud called “smishing.”

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Florida Chief Financial Officer Jimmy Patronis is offering tips for consumers to avoid falling for these smishing scams, which use SMS or text messages instead of email messages to lure consumers to click on fraudulent links.

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“With more and more Floridians paying bills, shopping and doing other things electronically, smishing scams are on the rise, so it is important for consumers to remember to never click on a link in an unexpected text message,” Patronis said in a statement.

He said it is critical for Floridians to stay on guard, and if you are suspicious of fraud, report it immediately at FraudFreeFlorida.com.

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The Federal Trade Commission offers the following tips on how to recognize suspicious text messages.

The FTC says scammers use a variety of ever-changing stories to try to rope you in. They may:

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  • Promise free prizes, gift cards or coupons.
  • Offer you a low or no-interest credit card.
  • Promise to help you pay off your student loans.

Scammers also send fake messages that claim they have some information about your account or a transaction. The scammers may:

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  • Say they’ve noticed some suspicious activity on your account.
  • Claim there’s a problem with your payment information.
  • Send you a fake invoice and tell you to contact them if you didn’t authorize the purchase.
  • Send you a fake package delivery notification.

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Sarah Wilson

Sarah Wilson, WFTV.com

Sarah Wilson joined WFTV Channel 9 in 2018 as a digital producer after working as an award-winning newspaper reporter for nearly a decade in various communities across Central Florida.