Recent reports have shown that cyber criminals are increasingly using text messages to scam consumers. These scammers send fake texts that look like legitimate requests to purchase gift cards on someone’s behalf. Known as text message spoofing, or “SMShing,” this scam is becoming more prevalent, with a common SMShing message purporting to be someone in leadership who’s in a meeting and needs a gift card but can’t purchase it then. They ask the recipient to buy the gift card on their behalf and text the details to them.
If you receive one of these messages, do not respond. Instead, if you have cell phone service through AT&T, T-Mobile, Verizon, Sprint or Bell, you can report spam texts by copying the original message and forwarding it to the number 7726 (SPAM), free of charge.
It’s also important to know the following:
Receiving a SMShing message does not mean that Long & Foster’s systems have been compromised. We have implemented many changes to our internal systems, including the implementation of multi-factor authentication (MFA), that make it extremely difficult to access individual logon accounts.
Mobile phone numbers are often publicly accessible as part of marketing efforts, especially in real estate. This makes it easier for clients and prospects to reach you, but it also allows hackers to obtain contact information.
SMShing is not hacking a system, but taking publicly accessible information (a mobile phone number) and using online tools to send scam messages, using spoofed names.
You need to be as vigilant with your text messages as you are with emails. If it is something you are not expecting, it could be questionable. Please know that you will NEVER be contacted from someone in leadership asking you to purchase a gift card or other item for them. On the off chance that you are, we recommend that you verify the request directly with them via Long & Foster email or by phone
As usual, if you have any questions, please contact the Help Desk. To learn more about Smshing, we recommend reading this recent article in Close to Home, the FTC update on how to recognize and report spam text messages, and this article from Consumer Reports.