As someone who provides mobile marketing services, I strive to help clients get the most out of their mobile devices to help them grow their businesses. Unfortunately, scammers are also looking for ways to profit from the popularity of mobile.
Online and mobile fraud is a hazard for anyone today. Many hackers, however, target small businesses in particular for a couple of reasons. First of all, a business is often seen as a lucrative target for phishing scams, identity theft or fake invoicing. Business accounts often contain more than personal accounts. Furthermore, a scammer can target small business employees who may have access to confidential information but who may not be adequately trained to recognize such scams.
That’s why small business owners can be especially vulnerable to mobile fraud if they don’t know what to look out for. Here are some common mobile scams that you should understand and avoid.
SMS Phishing Scams
Phishing has been around for a while. Now it’s something you have to watch out for on your mobile phone as well as a computer. You also must be prepared for scams to arrive via text message as well as email. These are messages that claim to be from your bank or other company.
As a rule, never provide sensitive information to anyone contacting you. If you have any doubt, contact the company independently. If it’s email, don’t click on any links, but log on to the company’s site in a new browser. If you get a text message or phone call, end the conversation and call the company back using the number on its official website.
This is a scam where someone calls you and hangs up after one ring. If you do answer, they will just hang up. The objective is to get you to call them back. If you do, you’ll be charged for an expensive international call. Another variation is that they leave a voicemail message asking you to call them back. They may say it’s an urgent issue regarding your computer, phone or bank account. The way to avoid this is to simply never call back numbers that you don’t recognize.
Sometimes scammers spread viruses by getting you to download unsafe apps or ringtones. This type of scam can be difficult to spot. The best safeguard is to never download anything from a source you don’t know or trust. Unfortunately, some apps with malware were found to be available on the Google Play Store. Apple has a thorough process of testing apps, so you’re generally safe with iTunes.
Ringtones are an especially common way to spread malware, so be extra cautious with these. Your best defense is to keep up with the latest news regarding apps. Read reviews before downloading an app. You can also look for “blacklists” posted online that warn about dangerous apps. Since new apps are released every day, however, it’s hard to keep up. If you want to stay as safe as possible, avoid brand-new apps, and wait for some reports before downloading them.
This isn’t so much a scam as it is a method to make you trust someone you don’t know. Mobile calls can come from anywhere in the world. Scammers know, however, that you’re more likely to answer and trust a call coming from your own area. So they “spoof” your area code and even the first few digits of your own number to make it look like a local call. They may then pose as another local business or local acquaintance. If you don’t recognize someone, be cautious about giving them any information.
One of the most serious types of mobile scams is when someone steals your mobile number. If an identity thief gets control of your number, they can sign into your accounts and receive verification messages to confirm that they are you. Known as a port-out scam, this involves someone stealing your number and transferring it to another carrier.
In order to pull this off, someone would need to first get personal information about you, such as your Social Security number. Unfortunately, this type of data is often obtained illicitly on the dark web. One of the best ways to protect yourself from port-out scams is to set up a secure PIN with your mobile phone carrier. Never use easy-to-guess numbers (including part of your phone number, birth date or Social Security number) for this PIN.
Whenever possible, use a more secure method of authentication such as the Authy App, which generates spontaneous codes on your phone. This means that someone would need physical possession of your phone to access your account.
Always Stay Vigilant
It’s unfortunate that the very technology that serves us in so many ways can also be used against us. Be on the lookout for these scams so you stay as safe as possible with your mobile phone. It’s also important to take common-sense precautions such as not leaving your phone unattended in public places. As long as you and your employees are alert and well-informed, you can usually avoid becoming victims.