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An estimated 1.5 billion smartphones are sold each year worldwide, which means you should stay mindful and alert of mobile fraud scams. Common scams include the following:
Studies show that nearly 70 percent of smartphone users say they receive unwanted spam messages sent as texts to their phone. Additionally, people are three times more likely to respond to spam received via cellphone rather than on a computer. This is an alarmingly high number considering more than a quarter of text-message spam is fraudulent. Spam texts will often lead you to an illegitimate website that installs malware on your phone or will otherwise ask you to reveal personal or bank account information.
What to know: Don't click on links or respond to instructions telling you to text "stop" or "no" in order to prevent future texts. Such interactions only confirm to scammers that you have a live, active number for future spam. Use and regularly update anti-malware software for smartphones. You can ask your phone’s manufacturer or your service provider for recommendations of software and help with installation. If you do receive a suspicious text message, forward it to 7726 ("SPAM" on most keypads) to alert your carrier of the phone number, then delete the message.
A newer method of mobile scamming is set up by fraudsters who program calls to smartphones that ring only once or disconnect when you answer. The purpose is to peak your curiosity over a missed-call alert, resulting in you spending upwards of $30 to call back. The reason: Despite a seemingly national area code, the call is to an international phone number—often in the Caribbean—that charges a premium connection fee and per-minute rate, which is extended through long hold times and frequent transfers.
What to know: Beware of any unfamiliar calls—one ring or otherwise—with area codes 268, 284, 473, 649, 664, 767, 809, 829, 849 or 876.
These text messages claim to be from your bank or credit card company and state that there is a problem with your account. They will instruct you to click on a link, which leads you to a look-alike, scammer-run website that seeks your name, account number and online log-in credentials.
What to know: If there's really a problem with your account, you might get an email from your bank or credit card company, but it will likely include your name and a portion of your account number. In the event you receive a suspicious email that appears to be from West Bank, forward it to firstname.lastname@example.org or call our customer service department directly at XXX. Do not respond to or click on any links in the email before confirming whether or not it is authentic. Also, your bank or credit card company may telephone you with a fraud alert, but will not ask for any personal data.
Finally, keep in mind that smartphones are highly susceptible to physical theft. Do not keep sensitive information stored on your phone including credit card or account log-in information. Always keep your phone in a secure location when not using it and remember to protect all electronics with a strong PIN number or password.
Tips provided by the Iowa Bankers Association