SMishing is a type of scam crime that uses spam text messages to obtain a person’s information without their consent. The word is created by combining the words “SMS," which is another term for cell phone texting, with the term “phishing,” which is a type of scam technique.

With SMishing, the thief poses as a financial institution and texts the potential victim. They will then seek to obtain money or personal information based on the person’s response. This may be done in conjunction with other identity theft efforts.

How Does SMishing Work?

Usually, the text will seek to create a sense of urgency or will describe some sort of emergency situation that the person has to respond to immediately. The text message or messages will ask the person to perform certain actions, such as:

  • Disclose personal information like bank account or credit card numbers, driver’s license info, Social Security numbers, and other identifying information
  • Click on a link that leads to another step in the fraud scheme, usually a fake website set up by the fraudster
  • Send or wire money to a bank account set up for the scam

SMishing may be related to other text-based crimes and scams such as SMS spoofing or other social engineering crime techniques.

Are There Any Legal Penalties for SMishing?

Like other criminal fraud crimes, SMishing can lead to criminal penalties. A person caught perpetrating a SMishing crime will usually be charged with misdemeanor charges, resulting in some jail time and criminal fines.

In some cases, the person can also face federal felony charges. This is because SMishing is accomplished over the telephone, and sometimes the internet, the person can face violations involving federal wire fraud laws. This is especially true if the person used government channels or was seeking to defraud government officials.

Lastly, civil lawsuits can arise if the victim experienced many losses due to the SMiShing incident. For instance, they may be able to recover certain provable business losses associated with the incident.

Do I Need a Lawyer for Help with SMiShing Crimes?

SMiShing crimes can take on a variety of different forms and can affect many people at one time. You may need to hire a criminal lawyer if you need to file a claim for fraud or other criminal activity. A lawyer can provide you with legal advice for your situation and can inform you of what options you have. Also, if you need to attend court sessions, your attorney can represent you in court.