Text message smartphone smishing
29 June 2021 / Facts

What is smishing?

Phishing does not always happen by e-mail. When it occurs as a text message on your smartphone, it is called smishing. We dive deeper into what it is, how you recognise it and what you can do about it.


Smishing is a contraction of SMS and phishing. Don't let the name mislead you: phishing attempts via WhatsApp, Signal or other services also fall under this term. Like vishing, smishing texts often involve a lot of social engineering.

How does it work?

There are usually two very different smishing tactics. The first is a traditional text message stating that a parcel is on its way, with an attached link to track its delivery. If you log in, hackers suddenly have access to a lot of your personal and account information. ‘Government messages’ sometimes make use of this technique as well.

A second smishing tactic uses internet-based services such as WhatsApp, Signal or Telegram. Someone will send you a message, for example in the name of your son or daughter, asking you to transfer them some money. They have just acquired a new phone number and because of a minor emergency, they need some money. Just a small amount - can't hurt, right?

Text message smartphone smishing whatsapp

How do you recognise it?

There is no anti-smishing technology available, so it’s up to you to keep your eyes peeled. Smishing is best recognised by looking at the sender's phone number. A government agency, bank or parcel delivery company will never use a normal phone number. Furthermore, you will usually notice similarities with phishing or vishing: they will try to put you under pressure with a deadline.

How do you protect yourself?

Never log in to a link in a smishing SMS sent to you by an unknown person. If it concerns a service, manually go to the correct login page of the service you want to reach, or use the official app.

If you get a request for payment from an acquaintance or family member with a new number, try to call them before paying: a hacker will always try to pass you off with an excuse like 'my microphone is broken'.

Logo voor CTA website
Try Phished for free

Start your free trial

Try it free. No credit card required. Instant setup.