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Cybersecurity Scam of the Week – Text Messaging Scams are a Rising Threat


Cyberattacks via SMS or text messaging are on the rise, and are having such an impact, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) has released an advisory on robotext phishing attacks, or smishing. 

Smisihg is the term used for phishing attacks delivered via text messaging. Like other scam methods, the sender wants an engagement with the target, possibly using fear, anxiety, and a sense of urgency to get a response. The message could be about a locked bank account, problems delivering a package, or law enforcement actions against you. 

Scams impersonating major companies such as Amazon, T-Mobile, major airlines, and even government agencies have been reported. 

What to Look Out For:
Scam text messages – also known as “smishing” – sometimes utilize:
 Unknown numbers
 Misleading information
 Misspellings to avoid blocking/filtering tools
 10-digit or longer phone numbers
 Mysterious links
 Sales pitches
 Incomplete information

How to Protect Yourself:
 Do not respond to suspicious texts, even if the message requests that you “text STOP”
to end messages.
 Do not click on any links.
 Do not provide any information via text or website.
File a complaint.
 Forward unwanted texts to SPAM (7726).
 Delete all suspicious texts.
 Update your smart device OS and security apps.
 Consider installing anti-malware software.
 Review text blocking tools in your mobile phone settings, available third-party apps, and your mobile phone carrier’s offerings.

What has been reported to abuse@uthsc.edu this past week?

  • [Ext] WARNING LATE EDWARD’S ESTATE – a long-lost relative you share a last name with left all his money to you! “Huge bank deposits”! This is a classic too good to be true scam that just wants your banking and personal information. 
  • [Ext] Your Order Has been Placed 49140492 of item – an autopayment scam
  • CAMPUS PART-TIME JOB OPPORTUNITY FOR EXTRA CASH – notice this one didn’t have the external indicator in the Subject line. This came from a compromised account for another UT campus. [Ext] helps with identifying external emails, but it doesn’t mean that all “internal” emails are safe. 
  • [Ext] **NetID** Workplace Violence and Corporate Policy – this one was attempting to look like it came from HR, but the address was external. They wanted the recipient to click on a link to acknowledge the policy, but they had only that day to do it (sense of urgency). 
  • THE UNIVERSITY OF TENNESSEE ACCOUNT UPGRADE NOTIFICATION !!! – this is another one from a compromised account from another UT campus, telling recipients they need to “CLICK HERE” to keep their account active.  
  • [Ext] Tax Invoice 20102604 for Account 208251 – from an email address originating from Australia. 

Keep reporting suspicious emails to abuse@uthsc.edu for examination. If you wish to report an incident to the Office of Cybersecurity, use TechConnect.