A mobile phone scam can take on many faces: it could involve trying to get you to register to exclusive and costly subscription services; to unknowingly text or call premium numbers, or to purchase mobile-phone related services and/or products that eventually either turn out to be non-existent or substandard.
The reality is that there are numerous scams that scammers can choose to use to target you. Knowing the most prevalent ones makes it easier to put in place protective measures. Popular types of fraud include :
Scammers running this kind of fraud normally target cellphone users who have just purchased a new device. The scammer will make a call to your new number to get you to buy a phone indemnity for your new handset. Typically, whoever has made the call will pretend that they are calling from the shop/store/retail outlet where you made the purchase.
Some may even go as far as pretending to call from your current mobile phone carrier. The best-case scenario for such scams is that you will end up buying a low-quality indemnity cover, while the worst-case scenario is that you get to walk away with nothing at the end of the transaction.
Times have changed, which has seen modern gadgets such as iPads being equipped with technological capabilities that allow them to hold large data volumes. Unlike the cellphones that were in use a decade ago, the gadgets available today can accommodate banking apps and also allow you to access several email accounts at a go.
Considering the kind of information, both personal and professional, that you are likely to have in your emails, it calls for you to exercise extra precaution. This is also necessary to make certain that your banking information won’t end up in the hands of hackers or scammers.
A ringtone scam is the kind of offer that involves getting you to purchase a low-cost ringtone, or in some cases, to redeem “a free one.” Scammers operating this kind of scam do so with the hope of getting unsuspecting cellphone users to subscribe to premium ringtone services. In short, as soon as you subscribe, the scammers will keep on sending you unwanted ringtones, and charging you a premium rate for each ringtone they send you.
It’s important to point out that just because some unscrupulous people have decided to run this kind of gimmick doesn’t mean that there aren’t reliable providers of the same. You, however, need to be extra careful whenever you are researching ringtone service providers to make sure that you will not be tricked into subscribing to a costly service.
This is perhaps the most popular type of phone scam, not only in the United Kingdom but globally as well. You receive a message on your phone from an unknown number, but which has been worded to sound as though it has been sent by an acquaintance or a long lost friend.
A good example would be a text like: ‘Hi Jonathan, I’m back from my trip abroad! When would you like us to meet for some drinks?’ A scammer running this type of fraud will send the text expecting you to reply telling them that they have the wrong person or number.
The recipient will, in this case, reply to the text out of the goodness of their hearts, not fully aware that each message sent to that number will attract a premium rate. In some instances, the original sender will try to engage in a lengthy conversation in a bid to attract extra charges.
Depending on how that particular SMS service was set up, you could be forced to pay a premium rate for both incoming and outgoing messages, or just for the outgoing messages.
This is yet another popular scam where scammers call your phone and leave a message for you with detailed instructions that you have to follow for you to claim a given prize.
Here, the caller will pretend to be calling from a given local company that may be running a promotion at that particular time. He or she will then give you a number that you need to call.
What you need to note with this kind of scam is that the people running it will tend to use more than one number. If you are unaware of this scam, you will naturally call the number stated in the message, which will lead to you being charged premium rates for a non-existent prize.
The caller ID on your phone indicates that you missed a call at some point during the day. On a closer look, you realize that you don’t have the number on your contact list, but decide to call it back as it may have been from an important business associate.
Often, this is a call where all its parameters will appear normal, and thus will not set off any warnings on your mind. However, upon calling the number, the call won’t go through, but will instead get redirected to a premium service.
This is a service that can charge as much as £15 for a single call.
1. A majority of telco companies have instituted extensive protective measures, e.g., PINs and passwords meant to safeguard your information.
2. Don’t hold sensitive information, e.g., PINs and passwords in your handheld devices.
3. Use a passcode or password to lock the device when it’s not in use.
4. Cease from downloading and installing cellphone applications from unknown web sources.
5. Let your cellphone provider know that you don’t have access to your phone immediately you have realized that it’s missing.
6. Safeguard your personal information and banking details by only calling known numbers.
7. For those that rely on their cellphones to access the web, try to be on the lookout for infected or suspicious-looking URLs.
8. Protect your voicemail messages by setting up a secure passcode that will ensure that you are the only person who can listen and respond to all recorded messages.
9. Perform a full factory reset before gifting your phone to someone else or before selling it to make an upgrade.
10. Exercise extra care whenever your cellphone contract is almost coming to an end. Scammers tend to target users during this period.
11. Activate remote track and lock on your device.
If you suspect that you have fallen victim to fraudsters, immediately file a report with Action Fraud.
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