Scammers are constantly coming up with new tricks and ways to trick us, so trying to protect our mobile devices has become part of our digital lives. However, some types of fraud are not easy to identify, so it's important to keep an eye out for new scams and know how to spot them. This is much more effective than recovering accounts that have already been stolen.
What is mobile fraud?
Cell phones have become one of our most valuable possessions, and cybercriminals know it. We always carry them with us and use them to access critical information. Our phones have bank accounts, emails and other sensitive data tied to them, making them ideal targets for cybercriminals.
The mobile scammer's job is to force you to infect your device yourself or give them sensitive information.
Some of the most popular types of mobile fraud include:
Cell phone malware infection messages SMS phishing ("smishing") ;
Phone call fraud ("vishing");
Reports that a cell phone has been infected with malware.
In this type of scam, a fake malware detection message is displayed on your device screen.
This may have happened to you while browsing the Internet. The messages usually say that a scan on your phone has detected malware and you need to take immediate action.
You will be prompted to download "antivirus," which is actually malware or spyware. Once the malicious code is embedded in your smartphone, attackers can gain full access to it or infect other devices. The easiest way to protect yourself from such attacks is to install protection on your phone, such as anti-virus for Android devices.
Vishing is a type of scam in which people call you in an attempt to induce you to do something.
Scammers usually pretend to be real people or companies to gain your trust. They might tell you that they work for a real organization in order to persuade you to give them your personal information or transfer money.
And actions are expected of you right during the phone call. Scammers create a sense of urgency so that you panic and do what they want. That's why they demand to pay or disclose data right during the call, instead of asking you to do something extra later (after the call is over).
In SMS phishing, or "smishing," attackers will urge you to take action via text message.
The text message may contain a malicious link that will download malware or spyware to your device. But sometimes the perpetrators make the victim do other things, such as call a premium number, subscribe to a service, or give out personal information.
Discarded calls.Dropped calls are calls from an unknown number that last only a couple of seconds . This is done to force you to call that number back. As a rule, such a scheme works if your curiosity outweighs critical thinking. The trick is that a call back to the suspicious number will be paid. That's what scammers make money on. Usually these calls are made from international numbers, for which they charge you. Sometimes scammers leave a message in your voicemail - this increases the chance that you will decide to call back. Be careful when receiving calls or listening to voicemail from an unknown number.
How not to get caught in a mobile scam?
Each scam scheme has its own specifics, but generally all threats can be divided into several categories depending on the targets and methods used. Since new schemes appear regularly, you should be prepared for surprises.
And be wary of requests from strangers. It's also not unreasonable to beef up the security on your devices.
How do you know if you're facing a mobile scam?
The goal of any type of scam is to play on your emotions and make you trust the scammer. Here are some of the strings cybercriminals like to pull:
A sense of impending danger pushes you to take action. If you feel like you have to do something right away or disaster will happen, you should stop and think about it. Any official representative of the company calling you will answer all your questions and confirm the necessity of the required action. Scammers, on the other hand, will put even more pressure on you. Popular topics of fraud schemes where the emphasis is on urgency: debts, tax refunds or indications of suspected violation of the law.
Empathy, which arises in response to a request to help those in need. It is more difficult to refuse such a request. If you feel guilty about doubting the real reason for asking, this should be the first call you make. Scammers can pretend to be employees of a charity or make up another story, and to sound more believable, mention a recent natural disaster or other pressing issue.
Big promises. The prospect of a reward may encourage you to comply with the scammer's request. If you feel excited or hopeful about the offer made, it's worth thinking about. For example, you may be told that you have won a raffle or received a huge discount on a trip to the sea.
In either case, you will be asked to do something in order to receive the prize. Here are the most popular requests, which should be treated with caution:
To pay for something, especially in cash or a gift certificate. Such payments will be very difficult to recover. Give out personal information such as bank account numbers, insurance numbers or credentials. Click on the website to log in to your account or get more information. Download a file or application, such as an antivirus.
If you receive a call or SMS asking you to do any of the above, be careful. In most cases, you should either refuse the request or postpone it and look for details.
What should you do to avoid getting caught in a mobile scam?
The best way to protect yourself from scammers is to be conscientious about communicating over the phone. In addition to knowing how to recognize a scam, some additional measures to ensure the security of your sensitive data can help you.
Here are some helpful tips to protect yourself from mobile scams: Use virtual private networks (VPNs) when connecting to public Wi-Fi networks. Encryption on a VPN will hide the information you're transmitting from prying eyes. Such services also provide anonymity, so you can't be tracked down by IP address or other means.
Set complex passwords. Never use the same password twice. It is best to create passwords from a random set of characters. Alternate case and use numbers and special characters in addition to letters. If your password is a passphrase consisting of several short words that you can remember, replace some of the letters with symbols or numbers.
Use a long PIN code. If your device allows, instead of a four-digit PIN, set a six-digit PIN on the lock screen. A six-digit PIN creates more possible combinations, making it more difficult for an intruder who wants to break into your phone or accounts to guess your password. Never use dates or other personal information as a password, because hackers try to find your password first and foremost by looking at information that can be found about you on the Internet. Also, avoid standard numeric combinations like "0000" or "1234."
Store your passwords in a secure online repository. Never write down your passwords in a notepad or in notes on your phone - this is extremely unreliable. Password managers encrypt your data in such a way that burglars won't be able to see it. All you need to remember is one password: the password to the vault. Of course, you have to make it as strong and complex as possible so that nobody can gain access to it.
In real drawings, no one will ask you for money. If someone asks you to pay for a prize, give it up. Chances are you're dealing with a scammer.
Install a call blocking app. These apps protect your phone from illegal robot calls and other types of phone scams. However, they don't always work perfectly and can send real numbers to spam. Fortunately, many apps flag incoming calls as potential spam, allowing you to decide for yourself whether or not to pick up the phone.
Don't engage in the conversation and hang up. Engaging in conversation in any way can provoke more calls. Don't press buttons to navigate the automated menu and don't answer live operators if you suspect something is wrong. Just hang up and search the Internet for information about the caller if curiosity still gets the better of you.
Only use official applications. Using third-party apps to log in to services like online banking and social media makes your device vulnerable to unauthorized access. What's more, if you share your credentials with a third party, you could lose them as a victim of phishing. Avoid apps designed to work with multiple services at once: always opt for official programs.
Check your phone bill. If you find unauthorized charges on your bill, you are likely a victim of an intruder. If this happens, contact your operator immediately and ask for your money back. Even if the reason for the charge-off was not fraud, you'll finally turn off unwanted services that have accumulated over the years.
Get protection for your phone. The easiest way to keep your online privacy and the data on your phone is to protect it. A Family subscription allows you to set up parental controls - so you protect yourself, your partner and children, if you have them.