USPS Guidance on Avoiding Smishing Attacks in Washington State

Cybersecurity threats are constantly evolving, and it seems like just when we've caught onto one, scammers find a new way to bypass our defenses.

Smishing in Washington State: USPS Alerts and Prevention Measures

In Washington State, the return of a particularly deceptive phishing method, known as smashing, is making headlines – but there's no need to panic. With the right knowledge and awareness, you can protect yourself from falling into the trap set by these cyber criminals.

The United States Postal Service (USPS) has been vocal about the resurgence of smishing scams targeting its customers.

What's concerning is the potentially devastating impact these attacks can have. Not only can they result in financial loss, but they also expose victims to a variety of other serious risks.

Texting on a touch screen phone
Keith Bell

What is Smishing and Why is It Dangerous?

Smishing is short for 'SMS phishing,' a form of phishing carried out through text messages (SMS). These messages often appear to be from a legitimate source, such as a bank or government agency, and prompt the recipient to take immediate action, like clicking on a link to provide sensitive information.

The danger lies in the simplicity and effectiveness of the tactic, as people often feel more compelled to trust and respond to text messages than emails.

In the context of USPS, these smishing messages can mimic official notifications about undelivered parcels, sparking urgency for customers to act quickly.

The scammers' ultimate goal is to trick unsuspecting individuals into giving away their personal and financial information.

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Once in possession of this data, cybercriminals can perpetrate a range of fraudulent activities, leaving their victims to pick up the pieces and restore their digital security.

If you receive such a random text, especially one containing a link, it's a red warning flag that you're likely being smashed.

USPS Guidelines for Protecting Against Smishing

USPS is not leaving its customers to fend for themselves. Instead, they are taking proactive steps to educate the public on how to distinguish between legitimate communications and smishing attempts. Here's what they advise:

Verify the Authenticity

Before taking any action based on a text message you've received, take a step back and assess its authenticity. Is the phone number it came from linked to the legitimate institution it claims to be from? Does the message contain any uncharacteristic spelling mistakes or poor grammar that might be a common sign of phishing attempts?

USPS stresses the importance of knowing the signs of a genuine message. For their specific services, this includes a lack of clickable URLs in the text, a courteous but clear directive to visit their official website or call a verified customer service number.


Never Share Sensitive Information

Regardless of how convincing or urgent the message seems, never share your personal data via text message. Sensitive information is best provided directly to verified sources or through secure channels. USPS reminds customers that the onus of sharing tracking numbers for packages lies with them, and not the other way around.

What USPS Will Never Do

Familiarizing yourself with what USPS will never do when it comes to customer interaction is crucial. USPS does not send unsolicited text messages containing links, request money from individuals, ask for bank account or credit card details via text, or pressure recipients to act immediately.

Hopefully, these few tips will help you avoid a mess in the future - you can get more details about "smishing" here. 

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