This week’s Scambook video is all about mobile phone fraud. Kevan talks about some of the most common cell phone scams that crooks use to trick people into handing over private information such as credit card and bank information. He discusses fake PC virus calls and other phony telemarketing ploys designed to steal your money, including bogus lottery jackpots, fake contest giveaways, free prizes and lawsuits. Then, Kevan gives you the warning signs about smishing (SMS phishing) cons and how to avoid them. He recommends you protect yourself against identity theft and financial fraud with his tips about false frozen debit cards, checking your monthly wireless bill from AT&T, Verizon, Sprint or T-Mobile, and other ways to save money and avoid unwanted monthly charges and spam.
Gadget geeks and Apple fans aren’t the only ones who go crazy over new cell phone technology. Con artists love mobile phones – and the more complicated, the better. Prepaid phones allow fraudsters to call from multiple numbers, which can make it easier to execute their schemes. But they also take advantage of the fact that many of us don’t quite understand how our smartphones work.
Thanks to affordable smart phones and wireless data plans, many of us can now get the same email on our PCs and our phones. It doesn’t sound too farfetched that someone who knows your cell phone number could also know what’s going on inside your laptop. But the technology doesn’t work that way. If a fraudster could actually use your phone number to access your Mac or PC, they’d just hack into your bank account directly instead of calling you to sell bogus anti-virus software.
Cell phone hustlers may also try to cheat you by tell you that you’ve won a special lottery jackpot, a prize or a free gift card. Be very cautious in these situations. Don’t give the caller any personal information! Ask for the name of the company making the offer, the name and extension of the caller’s supervisor, the company’s website and the company’s mailing address. If you’re speaking with a legitimate organization, the caller will be happy to provide you with these details. You can look them up on Scambook and call them back later if they’re the real deal.
Fake lawsuits are another trending phone fraud. Scambook members report that they have received calls from people who tell them they’re being sued. If this happens to you, hang up! If you’re actually being sued, you’ll be officially served with a complaint. You won’t be notified by phone.
There’s also a highly prevalent mobile phone scheme called “smishing.” This goofy word comes from SMS and Phishing, and it might make you laugh – but smishing is no joke.
Smishing is a spam text message that could say you’ve won a $1000 gift card, usually from a major retailer like Walmart, Best Buy or Target. Sound too good to be true? That’s because it is! Smishing messages always include a link to a bogus website URL that asks for your credit card or other personal information.
Follow these helpful tips Kevan mentions in the video to avoid cell phone fraud:
Tip #1: Watch for the warning signs of mobile monkey business. As Kevan points out, it’s a huge red flag if an unsolicited caller asks you to pay money for a “free” gift, a contest prize, or a computer virus you don’t even have. You should never hand over your private information to these highly suspicious callers. They won’t pressure you or make threats, either.
Tip #2: If you get one of these suspicious text messages, here’s what you do: IGNORE IT. Contact your phone service provider and take a screen shot on your phone if you can, but NEVER visit the links and do NOT reply. If you reply with “UNSUBSCRIBE” or “REMOVE FROM LIST”, the spammers will know that your number works and you may receive more unwanted texts or even a monthly subscription charge.
Tip #3: Check your phone bill every month and read it closely. If you notice any suspicious call logs, unexpected data usage, unwanted charges or over-time fees, call your service provider right away. The bad guys are hoping that you don’t check your phone bill often and will never notice them charging you every single month.