Mobile Fraud: How to Detect and Protect Yourself

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Identity theft is one of the most dangerous threats on the internet. If a cybercriminal gains access to your financial information, it can lead to disaster. In this post, we’ll show you how to keep your personal information safe from prying eyes.

Nowadays, a large part of internet traffic goes through mobile devices. This turns mobile device users into targets as well as computer users. Fraud and malware on mobile devices are on the rise, and scammers are developing more sophisticated ways to trick you into disclosing your information. Check out the different types of mobile scams below. There you will also find the best ways to identify them and keep your data safe.

Malicious programs

As the number of counterfeit apps in official app stores increases, it becomes more and more difficult to tell whether an app you have downloaded is genuine. Big-name brands aside, how can you find out if an unknown programmer with few reviews is actually developing useful apps or simply creating vehicles to install malware on your smartphone?

Here’s how you can identify a fake mobile app:

  • Do some research. If the developer has few reviews or very few downloads, they may just be starting their business. However, it could also be a scammer trying to trick you into downloading their app. Search the web for the app and the developer. Most reputable developers have a website that features the app in question, as well as other apps from the company.
  • Read the reviews available for the app. If they are short and unimportant, this indicates a fraud. There could also be reviews from users who were tricked using the app.
  • Pay attention to details. Do the pictures in the app look professional? A good design suggests a good app. Fraudsters are often in a hurry and simply throw a few pictures together. Watch out for inappropriate fonts, spelling mistakes, and unsymmetrical arrangement of logos and images.
  • Are there comprehensive explanations and details about the functions of the app? Serious app developers usually describe the functions of the app precisely and include instructions.
  • Many fake apps are clones of popular, established apps. Check that the developer’s name matches the app. Pay attention to the number of reviews. Very popular apps can have hundreds or even thousands of customer ratings.

Spam on social media

As a Twitter user, you know how annoying it is when you are followed by a disfigured name with no followers, from which you then receive tweets with little more than a link. Facebook is teeming with fake profiles, some of which have harmless intent, but most are used to deliver fake „likes” when requested – or to send phishing links as spam to real users. As persuasive as a message may seem, never click on a link received from a stranger and never send money. Even if it seems harmless at the time, it could ultimately end up with your valuable personal information with a criminal or, worse, catch malware on your mobile device.

SMS phishing (smishing)

The same goes for the good old SMS: Here you receive messages from unknown numbers asking you to send a reply to a specific number or to open a link in the browser of your smartphone. Again, it can be harmless to comply with the request, but it is more likely that it will get malicious software onto your phone – or at least alert scammers that your number is active and that another attack is worthwhile.

This type of fraud takes many forms. Examples include „free” ringtones, sweepstakes, other things that sound too good to be true, or an urgent matter related to your bank.

There are several ways that scammers can trick you with ringtone scams. Sometimes the „free” ringtones are a service subscription. If you answer, you are unwittingly entering into a contract. In other cases, they are distributed along with malware. For security reasons, only obtain ringtones from trustworthy sources such as the Google Play Store or the iTunes Store.

SMS phishing uses some kind of intimidation tactic to trick you into giving a quick, thoughtless response. In the form of a notification from a financial institution, the phisher requires an immediate response to prevent your account from being closed. If you suspect that your accounts are at risk, find the customer service number of your provider online and have the text confirmed for you.

How to stay protected:

  • Be careful when clicking links that you receive via SMS from unknown senders. You can get the sender’s phone number through Google. If it is a scam, you will likely find several reports of it online.
  • Do not reply to text messages from numbers that are not a full cellular number (e.g. 5000). Such messages come from an email-to-text service that is very popular with scammers.
  • Don’t reply to messages without knowing who they came from (again, Google is your friend).
  • Never call an unknown phone number from which you have received a text message. This can result in high telephone charges without you even realizing it.
  • Be wary of free offers and winning notifications. If an offer sounds too good to be true, it probably is.

Vishing

Voice phishing or vishing has a human component and comes in many forms. For example, a fraudster could call you impersonating your bank, ask for your security information and PIN, and finally tell you that your card is no longer secure and that a courier will be arriving soon with a replacement card. Of course, the replacement card is fake, and the scammer will go on and off with your real card and security info. Even without the physical component, simple phishing calls for login credentials are common – and surprisingly effective. Your bank will never ask for your PIN. Therefore, do not give it to anyone who asks you for it. If you do get an unexpected call from your bank, say

Ping calls

In this scam, the caller only lets the phone ring once and then hangs up. He’s hoping you will call back. The numbers can belong to special connections so that you pay a high fee for your call.

While mobile malware is becoming more prevalent, you can protect yourself by acting carefully. The first line of defense against cyberattacks is the user. Find out about mobile threats and use the tips mentioned in this article. In addition to this knowledge, you can give your phone an extra layer of protection by installing Antivirus, which helps you protect yourself against the myriad of threats in the mobile Internet landscape.