Mobile phone fraud is any criminal activity involving using a mobile phone to deceive or defraud another person. Mobile phone fraud can include a wide range of scams, such as:
1. Smishing: Fraudsters send text messages posing as a legitimate organization or company, asking the recipient to respond by clicking on a link for replying with personal information.
2. Spoofing: Scammers use software to mimic a genuine phone number, tricking the recipient into believing they are receiving a call from a legitimate source.
3. Phishing: Criminals create fake websites or apps that look legitimate and trick people into providing personal and financial information.
4. Premium-rate scams: Fraudsters send unsolicited text messages or make automated phone calls to people, encouraging them to call a premium-rate number that charges a high fee.
5. SIM swap fraud: Criminals steal personal information to convince a mobile phone provider to move a mobile user’s phone number to a new SIM, thus enabling them to access sensitive data and pocket money.
Mobile phone fraud can have severe consequences for victims, including financial loss, identity theft, and reputational damage. To protect themselves from fraud, mobile phone users should be vigilant and cautious when receiving unsolicited calls or messages and never share their personal or financial information with anyone they don’t trust. Here are some best practices for avoiding mobile phone fraud:
- Maintain Your Phone Security: To protect your phone from unauthorized entry, set a strong passcode, pattern, or biometric lock to keep unauthorized users out. Avoid creating easily-guessed passwords that you change frequently – to remain safe.
- Install Security Apps: Utilize reliable antivirus and security apps from trusted sources to safeguard against malware and other security threats that might threaten your device. These can help shield it against infections like ransomware.
- Update Your Software Regularly: Keep the operating system and apps on your phone current with software updates that provide security patches to address known vulnerabilities.
- Be Wary of Phishing: Be suspicious of texts, emails, and phone calls asking for personal data or providing suspicious links; these should be treated with extreme caution as potential sources. Avoid clicking any untrustworthy sources.
- Avoid Public Wi-Fi Networks for Sensitive Tasks: For optimal security, when using public Wi-Fi networks for sensitive tasks such as banking online or accessing personal accounts, avoid doing them over an open Wi-Fi network such as Starbucks’. Instead, use VPN (Virtual Private Network) instead for added protection.
- Review App Permissions: Before downloading apps, be mindful of any permission requests they might make for accessing personal information or features of your phone that could compromise security or pose threats to personal privacy. Be wary if an app seeks access to more than necessary.
- Employ Two-Factor Authentication (2FA): Enabling two-factor authentication can add another layer of protection by requiring two verification forms – like text messaging you a code – alongside your password.
- Keep An Eye Out When Downloading Apps: For your safety, only purchase apps from official app stores like the Google Play Store (Android) or App Store (iOS) rather than third-party stores, which could contain malicious applications.
- Enable Remote Tracking and Wiping: To make remote tracking and wiping possible on your device, activate “Find My Phone.” That way, if it becomes lost or stolen, you can track, lock or erase your phone without being present in case it needs relocating or wiping remotely.
- Utilize Secure Payment Methods: When purchasing from your phone, always use secure payment methods such as Google Pay or Apple Pay that use tokenization technology and provide an additional layer of security.
- Review Your Phone Bill Regularly: Take regular steps to review your phone bill for any suspicious charges or unwarranted services that might incur additional charges or usage.
- Inform Yourself: Stay abreast of the latest mobile phone fraud tactics and scams to protect yourself against falling prey to fraudulent activities. Knowledge will allow you to identify signs that fraudsters might use against you.
- Do Not Jailbreak or Root Your Phone: Tainting your device’s operating system through jailbreaking for iOS or rooting Android can compromise its security and make it vulnerable to potential risks.
- Safely Discard Old Phones: Before disposing or selling an old phone, ensure it has been securely erased by using a factory reset or data wiping tool to delete all personal information.
At all times, being proactive and vigilant regarding mobile phone fraud prevention and personal security should always be your number one priority.