In-depth

What is 'Smishing'

Experts warn of mobile-based banking scam

Credit card scam

Security experts warned people about a spate of banking scams in which hackers send texts to phones in an attempt to steal money. Known as 'smishing' -­ a combination of phishing and SMS -­ these scams try to trick users with messages that appear to be legitimate alerts from banks.

Worryingly, criminals are getting much better at making these messages look genuine. They send you messages in the same conversation 'thread' that your bank uses, making it very hard to tell what's real. A popular tactic of scammers is to send warnings about 'suspicious' or 'usual' activity in users' accounts. These messages emphasise how important it is that the victim takes action immediately, normally by transferring their money into a new account.

Often this threat appears serious enough to persuade people to click links or ring numbers, where the criminals are waiting to steal their password and other personal information. Unsurprisingly, the hackers are chiefly targeting older people, because they are likely to have a bigger pot of savings to steal.

What should you do?

It's vital to be highly vigilant when banking via your phone, particularly because banks may not give you back any money that's stolen (read how Santander refused one victim's request here). You should be very suspicious about clicking any link in a text message from your bank.

Banks say they will never ask for your password and other log­in details by phone or email, nor will they ask you to transfer money into a new account. If you're unsure, phone your bank. You can find their number quickly at www.pleasepress1.com.

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