You’d have to be living in the pond to have not heard of “phishing” scams but now the FBI is dishing about new scams called smishing and vishing.

Phishing, smishing and vishing all have a lot in common. There are all ways to scam you out of your personal information and your money. How they differ is in the means by which the hackers bait you.

Let’s review.

Phishing scams bait victims online through phony but scary e-mail messages. Phishing e-mails can claim to be from anyone you have an account with (or even not). They can range from poorly worded to very professional messages that say that your package can’t be delivered or that your account has been breached. The emails will ask you download an attachment or click on link to help you take care of the problem. Either way your computer will be infected with a virus and you’ll been taken for a sick ride to steal your money.

What is smishing?

Since consumers didn’t stop with e-mail, hackers didn’t stop with e-mail scams. Since many cell phones have computer capabilities and people do business and shop from cell phones, now hackers are using “smishing” scams to phish your information from your cell phone. Smishing sounds like a new extreme sport but the name actually comes from a combination of “SMS texting” and “phishing.”

Smishing scams can originate as either a text message with a dangerous link or a phone call, often automated, giving you instructions to go to a corrupt website to “fix” a problem.

Tips for Protecting Yourself from Smishing:

Do not reply to suspicious email addresses.

Do not click links in texts messages from positively recognized sources. Beware that imitators are often quite good.

Don’t download things to your phone with any less security than you would use on your computer.

What should you do?

If you receive a suspicious message, contact the bank, credit card company or seller by the same website, email or phone numbers you were given by them in the past. Victims from one credit union called the number given in a text, verified their information and had funds stolen from their account in ten minutes.

What is vishing?

Vishing is the exact same scam but refers to the automated calls made to your home phone or a landline. Vishing stands for a combination of the words “voice” and “phishing.”

Common messages are “there is a problem with your account” or “your ATM card needs to be reactivated.” Call your bank or credit company directly and do not follow directions given from automated messages. Often the scammers have stolen blocks of numbers for accounts in a region or area code.

Always ignore phone calls from an unknown or blocked number. If it’s legit and important all of your accounts should have an alternative method for contacting you.

While we all “wishing” for happy holidays, scammers are vishing, smishing and phishing for big paydays. Have you been a victim of one of these latest scams?