Are Your Texts Coming from the True Presidential Candidates? Scammers Are “Smishing” to Steal Your Identity

The 2020 presidential election campaign is in high gear now, and scammers are taking advantage of the public’s heightened interest in the race between Trump and Biden. An anomaly six years ago, texting has exploded in political campaigns with an expected one billion texts to be sent during this election season, and smishing scams are increasing in frequency accordingly.

“Smishing” is the name given to text messages that lure you into clicking on links or providing personal information in response to a text message from what appears to be a trusted source. They might say something like,” I need your support. The best way to ensure your vote counts this November is to request your ballot now,” followed by a live link. It appears to be from the democratic or republican candidate, but there is no way to identify the sender.

Like the email scam of “phishing,” a click on a smishing link may take you to a fake website or install harmful malware on your phone that steals your personal information without you realizing it. There is no federal law requiring texters to identify themselves or provide disclaimers in political texts. This is another area in which scammers can remain anonymous.

How can you protect yourself?

If you do not know the sender of a text message you receive, do not reply. It tells the scammer that your number is active, and you will be targeted with even more scam texts. Instead, do one of the following:

  • Report it on the messaging app you use. Look for the option to report junk or spam.
  • Copy the message and forward it to 7726 (SPAM).
  • Report it to the Federal Trade Commission at ftc.gov/complaint.

While we all get used to political texts, and learn to assess their authenticity, contact the professionals at Charles P. Leach Agency and ask how they can help your company protect itself with cyber liability insurance. We can be reached at 814.275.3224 or email us here.