The mobile phone market is big business.
In many of the world’s countries mobiles are the must-have gadget of the younger generation and business people alike.
It often seems like there is a new model or service being released almost daily at times and scam artists know how to take advantage of that.
With so many similar types of phone and service, confusion in consumers’ minds is very real and that is the area that these scams attempt to exploit.
Listed here are the 3 main types of mobile phone scam that are prevalent today –
Some mobile phone scams are particularly distressing because they can be a by-product of other crimes already committed, or an opening for new ones to be perpetrated.
One such crime that springs to mind is identity theft.
In this instance, a mobile phone is purchased on a contract taken out in someone else’s name, using their personal details that the scam artist has stolen.
The victim of such a crime is potentially left with paying someone else’s mobile phone bill.
Conversely, stolen mobile phones often contain personal information – I personally know of people who record details such as their National Insurance number and credit card PINs on theirs.
If someone were to get hold of these details then that could quite obviously lead to identity theft or credit card fraud.
As you can imagine, each of these scenarios is pretty scaring and a huge headache to put right.
For that reason, I would suggest that story your personal data on a mobile phone poses a huge risk.
Another area of cell phone fraud is ‘cloning’ whereby a genuine phone is duplicated with a ‘twin’.
Cell phones are vulnerable to such a technique because they all have their own unique serial and phone numbers.
A clever combination of software and hardware can be used to monitor transmissions from genuine cell phones contract holders.
A criminal can then use this stolen data to clone the target mobile with one of their own that they have reprogrammed to transmit the same serial and phone numbers.
As there are now two phones with the same identifying information, this type of fraud goes largely undetected and all charges are levied upon the original account holder.
In recent years manufacturers have introduced new technology which decreases the chances of a phone being accessed remotely, though there are still plenty of service available to snoop on phones, plus the possibility that security services may have their own means of access post 9/11.
Ultimately, however, cloning of mobile phones is on the decrease whilst the number of incidences involving stolen accounts are very much on the increase.
Avoid free ringtone websites. Some free ringtone websites store files that have been tampered with by hackers. These virus-infected ringtones can steal any personal information on your phone, including your contacts and pictures.
Stay away from peer-to-peer ringtone sharing sites. As per the point above, peer-to-peer sites of all types are often targeted by hackers who are looking to get their viruses installed onto your phone.
Be wary of free ringtone commercials. Such ads suggest that all you have to do is send a text to a certain number and then you have unlimited free ringtones. What they fail to mention is that by sending that text you agree to sign up for their subscription service, costing up to $10 per month.
Avoid subscriptions where possible. As mentioned above, sometimes subscribing by SMS is automatic. If it isn’t, then try to stay away from any service where you have to enter your mobile number or address.
Read the fine print. Don’t be impulsive and sign up for a service unless you have had a chance to review all the details. Always know what you are getting and what you will be paying for the service.