A fraud crime known as “SMishing” employs spam text messages to get someone’s information against their will. The term was developed by fusing the terms “SMS,” another name for texting on a cell phone, with “phishing,” a form of scam tactic.
In SMishing, the criminal SMS the potential victim while pretending to be a financial institution. Depending on the person’s answer, they will subsequently try to get money or personal information from them. This could be carried out in tandem with other identity theft schemes.
The Process of SMishing
Typically, the wording will convey a sense of urgency or depict an emergency scenario requiring quick action. The text message or texts will direct the recipient to take specific tasks, such as:
- Disclose personal information such as credit card or bank account numbers, information from a driver’s license, Social Security numbers, and other identifying details.
- Click on a link to proceed to the next stage of the fraud plan, which is typically a bogus website created by the scammer.
- Transfer or send funds to a bank account set up for the scam
The text-based scam known as “SMishing” may be connected to other text-based crimes and frauds like SMS spoofing or other social engineering-based crimes.
What Methods do Identity Thieves Use?
Even though identity theft can happen to anyone, it mostly affects two demographics: youngsters and the elderly.
Identity thieves frequently target children as victims. They make superior imposter candidates, which is why this is the case. For instance, most kids don’t have a credit card, a driver’s license, a history of tax returns, or any other kind of identifying information that leaves a trace. As a result, thieves can open credit lines, acquire official identification like a passport or driver’s license, and obtain a mortgage on a home using the details of youngsters.
Identity thieves may ask the youngster directly for their information, message them online, or gain access to them to obtain it.
For instance, if a parent or guardian already has access to the child’s information, they can use it to apply for loans or start credit card accounts. Thieves may also assume an authority role (such as a school administrator) to gain the child’s trust and induce them to divulge information.
Regarding elder identity theft, criminals typically carry out this crime in one of two methods. The first method is taking advantage of their ignorance of technology. Elderly people frequently don’t comprehend how to use technology or how it works.
This may result in them sharing private information online where anybody can see it, not having enough security controls on accounts, or forgoing technology completely in favor of less secure methods like mailing checks.
Theft through deceit is the second way thieves access older people’s information.
The thief might show up at the victim’s care home under the guise of a long-lost family, a member of the medical staff, or a representative from their bank or another significant company and demand that they sign documents.
No matter who the victim is or how the crime is carried out, anyone found guilty of conducting identity theft expressly against a kid or an elderly person will face harsh legal consequences.
Do SMishers Face Any Legal Repercussions?
SMishing is a type of criminal fraud that is punishable by law. A person who is caught SMishing will often face misdemeanor charges, which could result in some jail time and penalties.
The person may also be charged with a federal felony in some circumstances. Because SMishing is carried out via the phone and occasionally the internet, federal wire fraud statutes may have been broken. This is especially true if the offender attempted to swindle government employees or used official channels.
Finally, civil litigation may develop if the victim suffered significant damages due to the SMiShing occurrence. For instance, they could recoup some incident-related verifiable commercial losses.
What Happens If You Are an Identity Theft Victim?
A victim of identity theft has various options for reporting the occurrence. This comprises:
- Submitting a report to a local police force;
- Providing notice to their banks, credit card firms, and other governmental or financial organizations;
- Requesting the cancellation or closure of any affected financial or other accounts; and
- Notifying the Federal Trade Commission of the occurrence (FTC).
It is also beneficial to consider hiring a lawyer to handle identity theft issues. Lawyers dealing with identity theft cases know the state and federal laws, prospective causes of action, and the general procedure needed to reach a successful resolution. Additionally, they will know which defendants are worth suing and which are not.
How Much Can You Recover in an Identity Theft Case?
The victim may be eligible to file a civil lawsuit against the offender if they are aware of them or the police can identify them. The victim may be entitled to compensation if the action is successful.
The most frequent damages judgment is for compensatory damages, which will pay any financial losses incurred due to the crime.
A victim of identity theft may be able to pursue punitive damages in exceptional and uncommon circumstances. Punitive damages are intended to both compensate the victim in full and to punish and deter the perpetrator from committing similar actions in the future.
Emotional damages might be recoverable if the victim experienced emotional suffering (such as worry or sadness) as a result of the theft. However, obtaining these damages is frequently quite challenging.
Court orders requiring a defendant to take or refrain from a specific activity are known as injunctions. To prevent identity theft, the court may require the defendant to express regret, inform people about the data exposure, and possibly absolve the victim of financial responsibility for debts for which they were not responsible.
On the other hand, the purpose of a criminal case is to punish the defendant. Therefore, any fines imposed on the offender will be paid directly to the federal or state governments. The victim may be allowed to ask for reparations in specific circumstances, though. If approved, the defendant must reimburse the victim for any out-of-pocket expenses related to the crime.
How Do I File a Lawsuit After Identity Theft?
As was already indicated, the first step for a victim is to identify the identity thief. They should report it to their neighborhood police force if they are unable to recall. If the police manage to apprehend the criminal, they will investigate and report their findings to the district attorney’s office in the area.
After reviewing the facts, a lawyer assigned to the case will decide whether or not to pursue criminal charges against the perpetrator. If the prosecution files charges, the defendant will be tried and punished in a criminal court.
A civil lawsuit based on a tort law theory may be filed by the victim if the criminal case is lost or if they need to be compensated for the crime. They can accomplish this by enlisting the aid of a private attorney to put together their defense.
Each agency and financial institution may have a different process to follow to bring a lawsuit. If the victim does not know the thief and law enforcement cannot locate them, it may be possible to go after some of the parties listed in the above section for “who can be held liable.” Additionally, each state has its own rules and procedures for bringing cases and making related claims relating to identity theft.
Therefore, it might be in a person’s best interest to get legal counsel regarding identity theft claims.
Do I Require Legal Assistance for SMiShing Crimes?
SMiShing crimes can occur in many different ways and have an immediate impact on a large number of people. You might need to employ a fraud attorney if you need to report fraud or other illegal activities.
A lawyer can tell you about your alternatives and give you legal advice specific to your circumstances. Additionally, if you have to appear in court, your lawyer can represent you there.