Treat Your Mobile Phone Like You Would Your Computer

Mobile banking can be as safe as, and even more convenient, than banking from your home computer, as long as you take the same precautions. Imagine the following scenario:

You receive a text message or an automated phone call on your cell phone saying there’s a problem with your bank account. You’re given a phone number to call or a website to log into and asked to provide personal identifiable information — like a bank account number, PIN or credit card number — to fix the problem.

But beware: It could be a "smishing" or "vishing" scam ... and criminals on the other end of the phone or website could be attempting to collect your personal information in order to help themselves to your money. While most cyberscams target your computer, smishing and vishing scams target your mobile phone, and they’re becoming a growing threat as a growing number of Americans own mobile phones and enjoy the convenience of mobile banking. (Vishing scams also target land-line phones.)

Smishing — a combination of SMS texting and phishing — and vishing — voice and phishing — are two of the scams the FBI’s Internet Crime Complaint Center (IC3) is warning consumers about as mobile banking becomes more popular. These scams are also a reminder that cybercrimes aren’t just for computers anymore.

Here’s how smishing and vishing scams work: criminals set up an automated dialing system to text or call people in a particular region or area code (or sometimes they use stolen customer phone numbers from banks or credit unions). The victims receive messages like: "There’s a problem with your account," or "Your ATM card needs to be reactivated," and are directed to a phone number or website asking for personal information. Armed with that information, criminals can steal from victims' bank accounts, charge purchases on their charge cards, create a phony ATM card, etc.

Sometimes, if a victim logs onto one of the phony websites with a smartphone, they could also end up downloading malicious software that could give criminals access to anything on the phone. With the growth of mobile banking and the ability to conduct financial transactions online, smishing and vishing attacks may become even more attractive and lucrative for cybercriminals.

Tips to Protect Yourself From Cyberscams:

  • Don’t respond to text messages or automated voice messages from unknown or blocked numbers on your mobile phone.
  • Treat your mobile phone like you would your computer. Don’t download anything unless you trust the source.
  • When buying online, use a legitimate payment service.
  • Check each seller’s rating and feedback along with the dates the feedback was posted. Be wary of a seller with a 100-percent positive feedback score, with a low number of feedback postings, or with all feedback posted around the same date.
  • Don’t respond to unsolicited emails (or texts or phone calls) requesting personal information. Never click on links or attachments contained within unsolicited emails. If you want to go to a merchant’s website, type their URL directly into your browser’s address bar.

This content has been provided by Financial Wisdom and is intended to serve as a general guideline.