SAFE June 10, 2024 at 12:00 PM

What is Smishing and How You Can Protect Yourself from it

“Ding!” Your phone alerts you that you have received a text. You don’t recognize the number, but the text says it is coming from a financial institution. It says you’ve made a purchase for a specified amount, but you don’t recognize it. The text says that if you did not make the transaction to click on the link to address the issue.

If you receive such a text, DO NOT CLICK ON THE LINK. This is an example of a smishing text, and the sender will try to get your bank account and password information from you so they can steal from your banking accounts.

“Smishing” is fraud run by scammers who use mobile texts to trick people into downloading malware, share sensitive information, direct them to a fraudulent website, or send money to criminals. The term comes from a combination of “SMS”, or short message service, and “phishing,” which denotes fraudulent digital communication such as emails and websites. Government agencies say that smishing is on the rise, and the FBI reports that in 2023 alone, Americans lost a total of $12.5 billion to cybercrimes.

It’s important to arm yourself with the know-how to protect yourself. Here are some ways to identify smishing, how to avoid it, and what to do if you have been defrauded.

How to identify a smishing attempt

Look for these signs that the text may be a smishing text.

  • The message isn’t relevant to you.
  • The website address doesn’t look familiar.
  • The message is alarmist, expresses urgency, and requires you to take immediate action.
  • The message may ask for a one-time authentication code, user ID/password, code word, or card and account details.
  • The message contains grammatical and spelling errors.
  • The number is unidentified.
  • The text contains suspicious or unknown links.
  • The message uses incorrect branding.

What to do if you receive a suspicious text

If you receive a text from a number or person you don’t know, take precautions to protect your device and your personal information.

  • If the text appears to be from a financial institution and you want to validate that it’s legitimate, call the credit union or bank at the number you usually use. Do not use any links or phone numbers provided on the suspicious text.
  • Never click links, reply to text messages or call numbers you don't recognize.
  • Do not respond, even if the message requests that you text “STOP" to end messages.
  • Delete all suspicious texts.
  • Make sure your smart device operating system and security apps are updated to the latest version.
  • Consider installing anti-malware software on your device for added security.
  • Protect any sensitive personal information such as bank accounts, health records, social media accounts, etc., by using multi-factor authentication to access it.

What to do if you are defrauded

If you have been defrauded, it’s important to take steps to protect yourself and stop any future fraudulent activity.

  • Contact SAFE right away to report any fraudulent activity on your accounts or if you are concerned that you may have provided personal / account information to the scammers.
  • Report fraud and scams to the authorities, including your local police department. Additionally, The Federal Trade Commission protects consumers from fraud and deceptive practices and has more details on other scams.

How to protect yourself

Scammers get more savvy every day, and they are always trying new tricks to deceive people. There are ways to set yourself up to be ready to avoid their tactics.

  • Set transaction alerts on your accounts to track activity and alert you if something isn’t right.
  • Use two-factor authentication whenever possible.
  • Never share passwords or passcodes with anyone. SAFE will never ask for your password or a passcode when we reach out to you.
  • Do not share your Social Security number or other personal information.
  • Do not interact with suspicious texts, emails, or websites.
  • If in doubt about a text, email, or other messaging, contact the financial institution or company the message is purportedly from and confirm whether the message is genuine.

The security of your accounts is our top priority, and we take steps to ensure that your money and information is safe. We're committed to keeping your private information secure. We have physical, electronic, and procedural safeguards in place that comply with strict state and federal regulations.

It’s up to all of us to beat the scammers and not fall prey to their frauds. Be alert, be prepared, and be safe.

Learn More

Learn more account safety tips here.

Learn how to set up account alerts here.



SAFE Credit Union has served its members with integrity, exceptional service, innovative products, and progressive technology since 1940.