SMS Spoofing: Recognize It and Protect Yourself from Scams
01.05.2024
SMS

SMS Spoofing: Recognize It and Protect Yourself from Scams

Attackers use SMS spoofing to commit fraud. This technique involves changing the Sender ID so their messages appear to be from a trusted source.

Recipients might receive a message that seems to be from a trusted company, government agency, or even someone familiar. However, a closer look reveals inconsistencies. The sender name or phone number may not exactly match what's saved in their contact list.

Decision Telecom experts explain the reasons behind SMS spoofing and how to identify fraudulent messages.

What Scammers Use SMS Spoofing For

SMS spoofing serves one main purpose: to trick recipients into believing false information or taking actions that expose sensitive data, cause financial loss, or harm their device's security.

Here are the main ways attackers exploit SMS spoofing:

  • Smishing (SMS phishing): Attackers spoof SMS messages to appear as official requests from banks, financial institutions, online services, or other trusted sources. Their goal is to deceive users into revealing sensitive information like passwords, credit card details, or national insurance numbers.
  • Spreading Malicious Content: Scammers use SMS spoofing to send messages containing malicious links or attachments (viruses, spyware). This aims to "infect" recipients' devices and steal personal or corporate information.
  • Mass Spamming: Attackers exploit SMS spoofing to bombard users with unwanted advertisements, promote financial scams, and send unauthorized commercial offers. This allows them to profit from advertising networks or illegal promotions.
  • Blackmail: SMS spoofing can be a tool for extortion. These messages threaten to reveal compromising information unless the recipient pays a ransom.

SMS spoofing scammers leverage social engineering techniques by preying on human vulnerabilities like greed, fear, and naiveté.

Types of SMS Spoofing

Depending on the mechanism of implementation, there are two main types of SMS spoofing scams that exploit sender data:

  • Sender ID Spoofing: Scammers use software that lets them send SMS messages with a modified phone number. They then create a fake contact that impersonates an official or trusted source, like a bank or government agency. These spoofed numbers are designed to trick users into giving up sensitive information.
  • SMS Capture (SMSC): In this method, attackers gain unauthorized access to a mobile operator's SMS Center (SMSC). This access allows them to send messages on behalf of other subscribers, without their permission. SMS spoofing through SMSC capture is often used for mass spam campaigns that distribute malicious links or software.

Attackers can exploit International Mobile Subscriber Identification (IMSI). If they gain access to a mobile operator's network, they can intercept SMS messages directed towards a specific IMSI. These intercepted messages can be redirected to other phone numbers or manipulated for the attacker's purposes. The unfortunate owner of the spoofed IMSI ends up paying high roaming fees for messages their device never actually sent.

How to Spot SMS Spoofing

Identifying SMS spoofing can be tricky because scammers try to hide their tracks. Here are some red flags to watch out for:

  • Questionable Sender Number: If the sender's phone number looks suspicious, with mixed-up digits or wrong numbers, double-check the contact information in your phonebook.
  • Suspicious Wording: Scammers using SMS spoofing often rely on confusing language. Watch out for passive voice constructions, participial phrases, and impersonal sentence structures like: "Your account has been compromised," "Order cancelled," "Urgent update required," or "Suspicious card transactions."
  • Grammar and Spelling Mistakes: Fraudsters might intentionally misspell words to bypass spam filters. Look out for substitutions like "PR1VET" for "hello," "F1N4NSOV" for "finance," or "FRE3" for "free."
  • Suspicious Hyperlinks: SMS spoofing attackers often use link shorteners like bit.ly, goo.gl, or tinyurl.com to hide lengthy URLs. These links might also contain suspicious query parameters like "?id=123456" used to track your activity or steal information.
  • Urgency Tactics: Scammers will create a sense of urgency by claiming limited-time offers ("Valid today only") or pressuring you with time constraints ("Hurry, limited time").
  • They might also threaten negative consequences for not responding, like account blockage or fines, to pressure you into acting quickly. As a result, the person has a sense of urgency that prompts quick action.
  • Unrealistic Promises: SMS spoofing scams often dangle unbelievable rewards like huge cash prizes or expensive gifts ("Win a million, a car, a trip", "Free: a magic way to lose weight", etc.) to entice you into responding. Don't fall for these outlandish claims.

Decision Telecom can help your business connect with customers through SMS marketing. Reach even those who don't use messaging apps!

We'll register your official company name, so recipients will easily recognize your texts. Advanced security features like two-factor authentication and one-time tokens keep your business and customer data safe from SMS spoofing.

Contact our sales department today to get a quote and activate the service!

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