How to Identify Mobile Scams and Protect Yourself

Identity Theft is one of the most dangerous threats on the internet landscape. If a cybercriminal gains access to your financial information, it can be a potential catastrophe. Here we outline how you can keep your personal data protected from prying eyes.

55% of the Internet’s traffic comes from mobile devices. This makes mobile users just as much of a target as computer users. Mobile scams and malware are on the rise, and scammers are evolving to get smarter at tricking you into giving up your data. Here we outline the many different types of mobile scams and the best ways you can identify them and keep your data safe.

Malware Apps

With copycat apps growing on official app stores, it’s harder than ever to know whether an app you’re downloading is genuine. Outside of the big, trusted names, how do you know if an unknown developer with few reviews is really making useful apps, or simply building vehicles for getting malware onto your smartphone?

Ways You Can Spot A Fake Mobile App:

•Do some research. Even if the developer seems to have few reviews or very little downloads, they could just be starting out. On the other hand, they can be a scammer intent on tricking you into downloading the app. Perform and Internet search on the app and the developer. Most legitimate developers will have a website that showcases the app and any additional apps that company has made.

•Read what reviews of the app that are available. If they seem short and nondescript, chances are, it is a scam. Additionally, there could also be reviews from users that were previously duped by that app.

•Notice the details. Are the images of the app professional? Good design indicates a good app. Oftentimes scammers are in a rush and just throwing images together. Look for mismatched fonts, misspellings and non-symmetrical placement of logos and images.

•Are there thorough explanations and details of what the app does? Legitimate app developers will usually write out a good explanation of instructions and features of the app.

•Many fake apps will create clones of popular established apps. Examine the name of the developer to see if it matches up with the app. Note the amount of reviews- hugely popular apps will have hundreds, if not thousands of user reviews.

Social Media Spam

If you’re on Twitter you’ll know how annoying it is to be followed by a garbled name with zero followers, and to then receive a tweet with little more than a link. And Facebook is full of fake profiles, some of which have innocent intentions, but most are there to provide fake Likes on demand – or to spam genuine users with phishing links. However convincing a message may be, never click on a link sent by a stranger. Even if it seems harmless enough at the time, you could end up either giving your valuable personal details to a criminal, or – worse – have malware inserted onto your mobile.

Vishing

Voice phishing – or vishing – has a human element, and it takes many forms. A scammer might call pretending to be your bank, ask for your security details and PIN number, and inform you that your card has been compromised and a courier will be arriving soon with a replacement. Of course, the replacement is a fake, and the scammer gets away with your genuine card and security details. Even without the physical element, simple voice phishing for login details is common, and surprisingly effective. Your bank will never ask for your PIN, so never give it to anyone that does ask. If you do receive an unexpected call from your bank, tell them you’ll call them back before giving any security details.

SMS Phishing

The same applies over old-fashioned SMS, with messages arriving from unknown numbers urging you to reply to a number or to click on a link and open it in your phone’s browser. Again, doing so may be harmless, but will more likely insert malware onto your phone – or at least alert scammers to the fact that your number is active and worth targeting again. These scams can present themselves in many forms. Usually in some form of a misleading offer such as “free” ringtones, sweepstakes offers, something that sounds too good to be true, or a pressing matter from your bank or financial institution.

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