Beyond the annoyance of receiving unwanted spam calls and messages, the potential for catastrophic identity theft is present because once a motivated thief has a piece of your identity; the rest is usually not far behind, according to the Center for Identity Management and Information Protection. Viruses that shut down your computer or phone with the potential to steal and transmit your private data are also risks of responding to these messages, which are often called “SMishing” when sent by text and “phishing” by phone.
With the massive influx of technology the world has seen over the last few years, there is also a huge opportunity for fraud, theft and malicious intent. Many people around the world with the knowledge to steal all sorts of technological information use their skills on the less-than-legal side. While stealing social security numbers, identity and bank information, hackers can also leave behind debilitating viruses to cover their trails.
While the workers in technical support do all they can to protect customers from fraud and theft, there are simply too many threats to monitor all at once. It then falls on consumers to use their technological devices wisely, protecting themselves from outside threats by not falling for the schemes.
If one is unsure if a text message, phone call or email is from a trusted, legitimate source, it is best not to open or respond to it. A call to one’s service provider can often shed some light on the subject, letting the consumer know if they have encountered a scam. Numerous websites can also provide information about particular scams and a quick Google search will likely yield some answers. If one of the messages is responded to by accident, it would be wise to contact the service provider and monitor the bill and credit report for at least the next month.