MOBILE, Ala. (WKRG) — Joining us this morning is Jamie Harding with AARP Alabama, Chad Petri talked to her over Zoom last week.

This month we’re talking about scams on your phone–in particular text-based scams designed to trick you into turning over your money or bank account information. First up–what is “smishing”

Guest: The term for how scammers use text messaging service on your cell phone in order to perpetuate their crimes comes from the term “SMS” or short message system which is the technical term for text messaging.

Chad: How do these messages manifest themselves and how do they pop up as scams?

Guest: Well they’ll come in as a text that may look like it’s coming from a familiar source and they’ll say “we’ve noticed some suspicious activity on your account” or “there’s a problem with the payment on a recent service.” Or maybe there’s a package delivery notification and the newest among all these scams are Coronavirus-related like you can get a test through this link or sign up for a vaccine or some other COVID scam that looks legitimate.

Chad: What can people do to protect themselves?

Guest: We have three don’ts and one do. Don’t click on links unless you’re sure where it’s coming from. Don’t click on links that may be suspicious They can download malware on your device that means they can take over your device and they can get passwords and other information that can be very damaging. The third don’t is don’t assume a text is from a legitimate source just because it looks like a familiar phone number or maybe the name of a government agency on the caller ID. It’s very easy for scammers to spoof that. Then we have one “do” that we want people to do and that is to forward those texts to 7726 which is an industry-wide spam recording service from the cellphone industry, They’re trying to do their best to cut down on this kind of criminal activity forwarding those messages helps in that effort.

Chad: Tell me how a senior’s cell phone number gets in the scammer ecosystem. Those numbers aren’t printed in phonebooks so some have the assumption that if they get a text it must be from someone we know or who knows us.

Guest: Unfortunately there’s no privacy anymore if you Google yourself as a lot of folks do you will find out that information is all over the internet. Maybe you signed up for something using your phone number and then that number was sold. Privacy should never be assumed when it comes to cellphone information. It’s a good idea to Google yourself or ask a relative to do it so you can find out what’s out there and what’s in the public domain that other people might have access to.