Above: Watch out for smishers sending scams to your phone. Photo by StockSnap from Pixabay

Well, as if we didn’t have enough buzz words to contend with, you can add “smishing” to the collection.

As most of us evolve as humans, so evolves the technology that both helps make our lives more convenient, and, it seems, then seeks to destroy all human existence. OK, that’s a stretch…but just when we got our heads around phishing, skimmers and a host of other scams, a new one pops up—smishing, or SMS phishing—disguised as a FedEx package-delivery text.

I’m one who loves the convenience of ordering a product on Amazon and receiving it 10 minutes later. What could be better?

Well, after you look at your credit card statement, you might not be so giddy about it, but convenience includes knowing when that package will arrive and where it is right now. It’s like a relative sending postcards from Mount Rushmore. “Here I am; be home soon.”

Let’s say you’re at home watching the NFL Pro-Bowl Touch Football game and saying to yourself, “Why worry?”

According to an article on the website How-to Geek, the intended victim receives a text from FedEx asking them to set up their delivery preferences, along with a tracking code. In reality, the code takes them to a phony Amazon listing.

The listing requests the intended victim to complete a customer satisfaction survey. Those doing so will receive a reward—but the fine print states the person is required to pay a small shipping cost. That’s not the payday for the scammers.

When the person agrees to pay the shipping cost, they unknowingly agree to a 14-day trial period with the company selling the scam’s product. After the 14-day trial, the victim’s credit card is billed $98 monthly and they continue to receive the cheap reward chosen in the survey.

“Fine print” information is usually information required by legal standards. The seller is saying “I have to tell you this, but I don’t want you to particularly dwell of this part of it.” For instance, “Zero down, zero percent for 12 months!” But in the fine print, “After 12 months, put your seatbelt on!”

The television version of fine print is when the announcer dives into a ten-second rant of legal information that absolutely no one can comprehend since it’s delivered at light speed. They’re required to deliver that information, but no one said they had to do it at normal speed. If they did, the commercial would last another 30 seconds and, after all, time is money…money that’s ultimately passed on to the buyer’s cost. Loopholes.

If you do receive a text from FedEx, stop and put some thought-time into what you have out there that’s supposed to be delivered. Ask everyone else in your family if they’re expecting a delivery. If no one is expecting a package, either ignore the text or contact FedEx to confirm the information.

The FedEx website says the following: “FedEx does not request, via unsolicited mail, e-mail or SMS messages, payment or personal information in return for goods in transit or in FedEx custody. If you have received a fraudulent email or SMS message that claims to be from FedEx, you can report it by forwarding it to abuse@fedex.com.

The best form of prevention for this, as well as all attempts to fraudulently obtain money from you, is to be skeptical until it’s proven true. Put the brakes on and examine it for flaws.

For instance, is the web address slightly different? As an example, Fed.Ex.com is not FedEx’s URL. Also look for grammatical errors in the pitch. Be skeptical of any unsolicited texts or emails that require you to provide credit or debit card information, personal information or any form of money. Big companies just don’t do that.

So what do you do if you read this and realize you’ve fallen into this scam? If you used a credit card, do a charge back on the payment and then remove the card from that particular account.

If a debit card was used, contact your bank and have that card number discontinued and a new card account number issued. Let the bank know what has happened so they’ll be aware and monitor your account to ensure no other transactions targeted it.

Remember, don’t click on links within unsolicited emails and don’t provide personal or financial information without investigating—with a skeptical attitude.

And don’t assume. Verify any request for money or information. Just be diligent and you’ll be fine.

Steve Rose

Steve Rose is a retired police captain and a contributing writer to Atlanta Senior Life.