Phishing and smishing on the rise > Sixteenth Air Force (Air Forces Cyber) > Newsroom



JOINT BASE SAN ANTONIO-LACKLAND, Texas. You did, you almost clicked on a text, link, or replied to an email that looked legitimate and potentially gave personal information to scammers. You’re not alone. Phishing and smishing crimes are on the rise and people across the country are falling for scams on a daily basis. Scammers seek to obtain your personal information and subsequently gain access to your money, accounts, or line of credit.

Phishing occurs when scammers primarily use email to attempt to extract personal information. Smishing occurs when scammers send text messages to gain access to personal information or passwords. Regardless of the medium, scammers can impersonate a bank, creditor, guarantor company, or even a former or current military unit seeking military contact.

The Office of Special Investigations understands general phishing attempts, but is concerned about attempts specifically targeting the military.

“The military are just as likely to fall victim to phishing attacks as the general population. Scammers exploit Airmen’s military affiliation by appearing to represent military agencies such as the Defense Finance Accounting Department or by appearing to be the member’s squadron or wing,” said Jeffrey Sroka, liaison officer for the Office of Special Investigations, 16th Air Force (Air Forces Cyber).

Scammers attempt to trick service members into clicking emails or responding to text messages.

“These phishing campaigns may be accompanied by identifying information from military units,” Sroka said. “This military connection makes the phishing attempt more legitimate.”

Phishing and smishing affect Airmen and their families throughout the Air Force.

Recently, a Total Force airman answered a phone call from what he thought was his bank. The callers spoke professionally and seemed to know his banking information, so he felt comfortable giving them his account information. The crooks were able to access his account and take $500.00. The airman said the phone call sounded genuine and reasonable.

The account breech caused the Airman to scramble and cancel all of his credit cards and change all of his account passwords.

Once scammers have account numbers or information from things like credit cards, they continue to commit other crimes. They can immediately attempt to make purchases, steal your identity, or open credit cards in your name.

“It can be very difficult to identify the people behind this. They often use burner phones and accounts to hide their true identities, and they are often located outside of the United States,” Sroka said.

As scammers become more advanced in their tactics, distinguishing legitimate communications from phishing and smishing can be a difficult task.

Sroka provides several tips to prevent Total Force Airmen from falling victim to phishing, smishing, and other cybercrimes:

 

  • Be careful about the information you post on social media; the platforms are public.
  • Lock down your accounts, don’t make them public for everyone to see.
  • Use two-factor authentication; If your username and password are compromised, you have a second way to secure your data.
  • Report account breaches as soon as possible, cancel or freeze affected credit cards, and change passwords for breached accounts.
  • If you are using the same username and password for the account that has been compromised elsewhere, you should assume that all accounts with the same username and passwords could also be compromised.
  • Don’t click on information you don’t know about, even if it comes from someone you know.
  • If the information comes from someone you know, contact them before clicking or taking any action.
  • Press delete; don’t click and don’t respond at all. You can also block numbers placed on your phone.

“The best thing to do is to avoid compromise,” Sroka said. “If this happens, immediately report that you believe your account or identity has been compromised to the relevant authority or financial institution.”

Violations can be reported to the Federal Trade Commission or the Anti-Phishing Task Force. You can report phishing to APWG by emailing [email protected]

Sroka believes Airmen should be able to focus on the mission and their lives, and not have the stress of canceling credit cards and fixing compromised bank accounts, which leads to added stress in finding new ways to pay. bills like their rent or mortgage.

 

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