Thanks to our friend Dennis Horton, Director of the Rockford Regional Office of the Better Business Bureau (BBB), we learned a new word this morning: Smishing.

I had heard of "phishing" before, but never "smishing." Here's how the folks at internet security firm Norton define the word:

A form of phishing, smishing is when someone tries to trick you into giving them your private information via a text or SMS message. Smishing is becoming an emerging and growing threat in the world of online security.

Okay. Got it. "Phishing" is done via email, text or phone calls, but "smishing" is done using text (or SMS, "Short Message Service"). Call it whatever you want, but scam artists across the nation, including Illinois and the Rockford area, are finding that it's a great way to steal identifications and money from a lot of people.

The text scam phenomenon has gotten so prevalent that Illinois Secretary of State Jesse White has issued warnings from his office twice in the last month. The Secretary says that fake texts purporting to be from the Illinois Secretary of State are being received all over Illinois. The goal of those texts is to get you to click on the provided link(s) that come along with a note telling you that you owe money, or that you can renew your license by clicking the link. Don't do it. At the very least, you could be downloading malware onto your device. Worst case is that scammers have access to all your personal information.

Dennis Horton also warned of airfare scams that are happening right now due to the fact that the country is opening up and more people are looking to go someplace for a vacation. If you're planning a trip, get in touch with a reputable local travel agent, or, if you're doing it online, make sure you deal with a travel website that you've at least heard of before. When in doubt over an incredible travel deal, call the airline you plan to travel with to make sure it's legitimate.

Listen in as Dennis gives a complete rundown on smishing, airfare scams, and why you should be very careful about ordering anything that says "assembly required."

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