Fraudulent SMS messages are unfortunately very numerous and target almost everyone, because a significant number of people are not sufficiently aware of these dangers. Here are some practical tips to protect yourself from these scams.
When we talk about data hacking, we often think of the gifted hackers we see in movies frantically typing lines of complex code on their keyboard. However, in real life, malicious people are often satisfied with very simplistic techniques, but very effective. And the attempts to phishing – phishing in good French – can take the form of a fraudulent SMS.
We have all already received an SMS whose author pretends to be a legitimate institution like Ameli or La Poste (often Colissimo). Usually, there is a link to a malicious site that attempts to retrieve your valuable personal data – often your sensitive banking information.
Here are some good reflexes to adopt so as not to be fooled by these dishonest messages. Certainly, if you are reading this article, chances are you are already aware of these security issues. However, you can always share this article with your loved ones who are more likely to fall into the trap of thugs.
Ameli, La Poste, your bank… Portrait of a fake SMS?
To avoid falling into the trap of fraudulent SMS, it is still necessary to know what their content generally looks like. In the vast majority of cases, they deliver apparently very important – even urgent – information accompanied by a link. Here are some examples of what a malicious message can claim (non-exhaustive list):
- the flow of a package to your attention is interrupted;
- Health Insurance (via your Ameli account) reimburses you a large sum of money;
- a transfer has been made or blocked from your bank account;
- taxes are taking more money from you than you expect.
So many alerts that can appeal to a person. The goal is to make sure that the latter rushes and clicks on the link present in the SMS which supposedly allows to make a complaint, to confirm or to cancel such or such financial transaction.
So always cultivate the culture of doubt as soon as the message you receive amazes you. Assume that if you had not planned to receive a package or make large financial movements in your bank account, the message telling you the opposite is probably a scam.
You may be wrong, but you just need the few good reflexes that we will detail below to verify it. In the worst case, by not rushing to the link in the SMS, you will lose five minutes; at best, you will protect yourself against a hacking attempt.
Check the sender number
This is the very first thing to do when you receive a suspicious message: check the sender number. If it is a mobile number, this should alert you immediately. Indeed, your bank, your mutual, Ameli or La Poste will never send you an official message by simply displaying a series of numbers starting with 06 or 07.
The sender of a legitimate message allowing you to track a package, validate or cancel a bank transfer displays his name in full or a fairly short number of five digits generally. To go further, when you are in doubt, do not hesitate to do a little research on Google by copying the phone number that sent you the message by putting it in quotes – “XXXXXXXXXX”.
In this way, the search engine will scan the web to find exactly this series of numbers and in many cases you will come across forums where Internet users share or note their negative experiences. Then you will know that you should not give credit to the message you received.
Test the link without putting yourself in danger
As we have said, fraudulent text messages usually contain a link. In the vast majority of cases, if you click on it, you will find yourself on an interface asking you to enter your bank details. The link is malicious and, to avoid any risk, it is best not to open it.
However, if you are in doubt, you can test the legitimacy of any link without having to click on it. Several services offer you to know if a site is shady without having to go to it. Just copy and paste the link address (without opening it again) or copy the URL manually on one of the following platforms:
If the domain name scanned by these services seems suspicious, go your way by ignoring the message.
Copy the message to Google
Google is your friend. While this expression should not be taken literally, remember that many people have already received a message identical or similar to yours and have probably complained about it on the web.
By simply copying the text contained in the suspicious SMS on a search engine – Google or otherwise – there is a good chance that you will find results proving the fraudulent nature of the message.