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Fraud Protection for Your Mobile Phone

Monday, 15 June 2020 04:00
A black woman using her smartphone on her couch

Protect Your Phone Against Mobile Malware and Other Threats

Most of us are aware of computer viruses, but your mobile device is at risk, too.

Criminals are using tactics such as phishing, social engineering, and mobile malware. Mobile-related compromises are up 41% over the past three years, according to a report from Verizon.

“Your phone is your computer. It’s your life,” a security expert in CAP COM’s risk department said. “Be suspicious of text messages, phone calls, emails, and apps.”

Phone Calls

A simple phone call can compromise your personal information.

Here’s a typical scenario: You receive a phone call from someone claiming to be from your bank’s fraud department. They tell you there’s been suspicious activity on your account, and they ask you to confirm some information, such as if the purchase was yours, your account number, the last four digits of your Social Security number.

Do not answer those questions. If in doubt, hang up and call your bank, credit union, or credit card company directly. Don’t call a phone number that a potential scammer gives you, either.

“We never ask you to provide your member number or debit card number,” CAP COM’s risk expert said. “We already have that information before we call you, if we ever need to call you.”

Mobile Malware

Industry experts say that mobile malware incidents are on the rise. These threats are aimed at obtaining everything from your personal banking information to your list of contacts. However, you can take steps to protect yourself from mobile malware.

Beware of emails that include attachments or that have been forwarded many times. You’ve seen them – the funny joke or video that your friend sent you. It’s been forwarded 100 times to thousands of people. Chances are that this email includes malware.

Beware of text messages alerting you to problems with your bank account. Hackers can spoof phone numbers, so they look like legitimate sources and fool you. Do not reply to text or voicemail messages with personal information.

Download apps only from official app stores. Hackers make apps available through ads and third-party sites. One of them, SnapTube, has been installed by 40 million users and generates fraudulent transactions. Before downloading an app, read through its privacy policy to understand what it does with your personal information. As CAP COM’s risk expert says, “Take care with what you download, what you click on, and what you open.”

COVID-19 has created more opportunities for hackers and criminals, too. Malware is buried in an app intended to show COVID-19 maps, but it watches you through your smartphone camera, listens to you through your microphone, and pilfers your text messages.

Unemployment Fraud

Fraud was rampant in several states this spring when about 40 million people filed for unemployment. CAP COM’s risk expert said that fraudsters are using fake names, stolen identities, and names of deceased people to file unemployment claims. States are trying to process claims quickly to help their citizens, and criminals are taking advantage of the situation. The state of Washington alone is a victim of $650 million in fraudulent unemployment claims.

In another phishing example, malicious emails are taking advantage of the millions of unemployed people who are looking for jobs. The emails have subject lines such as “applying for job” or “regarding job.” When the recipient opens the email and attached CV or resume, the malware steals the victim’s credentials and private information.

These are more examples of why it’s important to protect your identity and beware phishing emails.

Public Wi-Fi

Part of protecting your mobile activity includes how you connect to the internet. Public Wi-Fi is readily available but be cautious about those connections. Always use a secure wireless network when browsing, conducting personal business online, and downloading apps. PCMag provides a list of ways to protect yourself when using Wi-Fi away from home.