Many are wary of email phishing scams and tend to avoid clicking random links, but text messages can also be deceivingly subtle in their attempts to lure victims in.
Attackers typically pose as legitimate banks or retailers and request information such as account updates, login credentials and coupon codes from victims. Increased awareness and robust security capabilities are the best defense against such attacks.
2. Your cell phone is stealing your identity
Your phone contains some of the most sensitive personal data: passwords and account numbers, emails, texts, photos, videos and social media posts. Placing it in the wrong hands creates the perfect opportunity for identity theft and fraud; criminals could reroute calls and text messages or gain access to contacts to gain two-factor authentication protection on online accounts and take over financial life by taking control of it all.
Criminals will frequently attempt to grab your phone as soon as they see you out and about so that they can gain access to your information as quickly as possible. You can help protect yourself by keeping all software and apps up-to-date, particularly free versions that may not feature the same security measures as more costly versions of popular programmes.
Your mobile device can also be protected by hiding any sensitive data on its screen when not in use. This can be accomplished by printing out and taping onto its back the email address or work number printed out, or by using duct tape which has greater adhesion on rubbery or plastic surfaces than regular tape does.
Stolen phones may be used to commit crimes such as credit card fraud, medical identity theft and tax refund fraud without victims being aware of this until their bank account is depleted, they receive bills for services they never used and/or they receive collection agency letters for debts they don’t recognize.
Criminals will contact your cell-phone provider and convince them to swap out your SIM card, giving them full control of your phone number and giving them full access to scam friends and family members, access your social media and online accounts, bypass 2FA security codes for financial accounts and even use this phone system as a weapon to send sensitive photos or videos directly to you via text messages.
Keep your phone as secure as possible by placing it in your pocket or purse, not on display on tables and desks, and locking it when not using it. Certain phones feature software that enables remote locking or wiping of lost or stolen devices and phone carriers may offer similar services. It’s wise to report missing phones as soon as you realize they’re missing; that way the appropriate authorities can intervene quickly to stop any identities being stolen by thieves.
3. Your cell phone is stealing your money
A stolen smartphone contains everything a criminal needs to drain your bank account, such as banking app logins and passwords, sensitive information, photos, and more. Without a PIN, pattern or fingerprint lock on your phone, thieves have access to this data – they could use Apple Pay or Google Pay purchases without your knowledge, use SIM swapping to scam friends and family, bypass two-factor authentication security on online accounts etc… This type of fraud costs victims over PS1bn each year with only about half recovering some or all their funds back.
As soon as your phone has been lost or stolen, contact your wireless provider immediately. Many providers will allow you to remotely lock it and erase its data using “Find My” app (On iOS phones this option will perform a factory reset and delete all applications, music, photos and settings from the phone).
Even without a finder app, Android or iOS device owners can remotely erase all data on their phone by accessing its settings and selecting “erase my device.” This will disable your Apple ID and delete all stored information so thieves cannot sell or use your old phone against you in criminal acts.
Once you’ve contacted your wireless company and taken steps to protect your privacy, review your credit card statements closely for suspicious activity. Fraudsters who gain access to a stolen phone may use it for fraudulent purchases as well as opening new credit accounts in your name.
As most police departments don’t have the resources to investigate every missing or stolen smartphone case, you can increase your chances of retrieving it by reporting it immediately upon its loss or theft. Be sure to provide any pertinent details, such as date and time when it may have happened, in your report. Additionally, write your device’s information onto its back or case using marker or tape; rubbery surfaces might require strips of electrical or duct tape instead for better adhesion.
4. Your cell phone is stealing your privacy
Your smartphone can be a treasure chest of personal data in the wrong hands, including passwords, account numbers, social media posts, photos and messages – which all put you and your loved ones at risk from identity thieves who specialize in phone theft. This could have serious repercussions for both of you.
If you suspect your smartphone might have been compromised, look for warning signs. For instance, if your banking app shows transactions from accounts you haven’t logged into recently, that may indicate someone has access to your account. If this occurs and you suspect fraud has taken place on your behalf, alter your password immediately before calling your bank to report this breach.
Another warning sign could be when your data usage appears unusually high; an increased monthly bill may indicate that malicious apps have been tracking and transmitting your location to hackers – so having an effective lock screen on your smartphone is of critical importance in protecting yourself.
Keep in mind that knowing your smartphone’s International Mobile Equipment Identification (IMEI) number can help track it even if thieves change its SIM card or battery. You can find this number in your settings or online account; sometimes even printed on its original packaging! Once you have this information handy, reporting its loss or theft to your service provider and they may even remotely lock or erase all personal data stored on it remotely.
If you find that two-factor authentication codes appear without you requesting them, this could be a telltale sign that someone has compromised your logins and passwords – something especially dangerous if your banking app is open on mobile device.
Smishing is an emerging form of cybercrime that involves sending text message malware directly to victims’ phones in order to steal personal or business information and use it for fraud or other forms of misconduct. Smishing can be particularly damaging as victims can lose both money and reputation due to criminal actions taken against them by perpetrators.