In 2022, Americans reportedly lost almost $40 billion to mobile phone scams alone. This article will show you how to protect yourself from cybercriminals trying to encourage you to hand over money, personal information, or financial details via texts, calls, and emails.
Scammers are becoming more sophisticated than ever, and as they pretend to be from a legitimate company such as your bank or broadband company, it can sometimes take time to tell if you’re receiving a fraudulent call or text.
Common Mobile Scams And How To Avoid Them
Cybercriminals know that nowadays, we always have our mobile phones with us, and we use them to access some of the most personal information in our lives.
I’m sure most of you have online banking, email accounts, and other valuable data linked to your smartphones. Mobile phone scams deceive you into voluntarily infecting your device or handing over private information. Here are four common types of mobile scams:
Mobile phone virus scams are false alerts claiming that a virus has been detected on your smartphone and urging you to take immediate action. However, the link on the scam will ask you to download an ‘antivirus’ app that is actually malware.
Here are some ways to protect yourself from a mobile phone virus scam:
- Use a virtual private network (VPN)
A VPN encryption keeps your data from being spied on in transit through the web.
- Get cybersecurity
The best way to protect your online privacy and data is to protect your mobile with cybersecurity services like Fortinet or IBM Security.
- Only use official apps for services
Using third-party apps could give scammers access to your information. Avoid apps that offer separate services in one place; instead, choose the official app for each service, such as your online banking or social media accounts.
Phishing is when scammers try to obtain your data by impersonating a genuine company or government department via emails or texts.
The scam messages will prompt you to take action for your subscription expiring or to secure your account after a fraud attempt. If you click a link in a phishing message, it will likely direct you to a website where you’ll be asked to enter your name, address and bank details.
Once you’ve given your details to a scammer, they can scam you and target you again in the future. For example, a scammer can use the correct details to pose as your bank, making you trust the call to be genuine.
To protect yourself from a phishing scam, think before clicking links in unsolicited emails and texts. If you need clarification on the origin of an email, contact the company in question using details on its website.
In addition, try to spot dodgy-looking email addresses which don’t include the brand’s name or are made up of random numbers and letters. Businesses should usually contact you from a business email address such as ‘email@example.com’ rather than ‘firstname.lastname@example.org’.
Vishing, also known as ‘voice phishing’, is similar to phishing but involves a phone call that urges you to take action rather than texts or emails.
Scammers will pressure you to pay or share information on the call rather than ask you to act once they’ve hung up. This is because they rely on the sense of urgency and hope you’ll panic into giving them what they want.
To protect yourself from a vishing scam, do not interact with someone on the phone if you do not trust them or they are provoking a sense of urgency to act now. Hang up and consider doing some research on their claim if you are curious.
One-ring scams arise when unknown callers only ring once, intending to entice you to call them back. If you do call back, you get charged fees and the scammer profits. In addition, they may leave a voicemail to increase the chances that you will call the number back.
Here are some ways to protect yourself from a one-ring scam:
- Use a call-blocking app.
These apps identify and block robocalls and other scams from making it to your phone. Unfortunately, some of these apps end up labeling a legitimate caller as spam, but some tell you which calls might be spam so you can decide whether to answer.
- Google search the number before you call back
If the number belongs to a legitimate company, their website should show in your search results. If not, you may find websites where people have also searched the number and left a comment.
How To Spot A Scam?
Spotting a scam and not taking the required action is a great way to protect yourself from losing money or handing out personal information to the wrong person.
Here are some questions to ask yourself:
Why Are They Provoking A Sense of Urgency?
A reputable company will answer any questions that allow you to verify their claims are genuine, whereas scammers will increase the pressure and provoke you to act fast.
What Promises Are They Making?
Scammers will promise you a reward in exchange for doing what they request, such as getting a significant discount on a holiday package if you pay over the phone.
What Requests Are They Making?
- Be careful if they ask you to pay in cash or with a gift card, as these formats take a lot of work to get refunded.
- You rarely need to give personal information like a bank card number or online banking password via a phone call or link.
- They may be trying to hijack your smartphone if they ask you to visit a website or download an app via a link they provide.
Is There Something Not Right With Your Bills?
Unknown charges on your bank statement or phone bills are a clear red flag of scammer activity. Act quickly if you spot anything suspicious on your accounts, as you can dispute the fees and keep your money.
What To Do If You Think You’ve Been Scammed
If you fall victim to a scam, you must act immediately in one of the following ways:
- If you realize you’ve given financial details to the wrong person, call your bank using the number on the back of your bank card and report the fraud to the Department of Justice.
- If one of your online accounts has been compromised, change your password immediately and log out of all devices.
- Forward phishing emails to email@example.com.
In addition, if you see something that looks like a scam, report it. By reporting scams, you might be able to prevent someone else from falling victim.