Cell Phone Scams and Smartphone Malware
Cell phones, smartphones, and everything in between are more than just basic communication devices. Today we check our email, do our banking, collect information, watch entertaining videos, and pay for a number of services on top of the traditional uses of making and receiving calls and text messages. Because of all of these options the scams that have been plaguing consumers for years are still out there, but new ways of trying to deceive consumers are falling keep cropping up and scams from other mediums are appear on your phone as you use your phone for those purposes.
Recently UCAN researchers came across a pair of lists of the most common cell phone scams. One from scambusters.org and one from Fightback.com, website of David Horowitz the former host of Fight Back! With David Horowitz consumer issues news series. Verizon also has a warning page about common phone scams. Not surprising the scams on the lists were quite similar: Fraud, phone theft, cloning, spying, and a series of text message scams to name a few. These are all scams that are uniquely connected to your cell phone and we encourage you to familiarize yourself with the lists.
What is missing from these lists are the ever growing number of internet-related scams coming to the smartphone because for many it is the primary way they access the internet. The number 1 growing concern on the list: malware. Malware (short for malicious software) has plagued PCs for decades and the reason why we have to choose among all those virus scanners for computers. Malware has hit Android smartphones pretty hard recently. Last week, Google removed 21 Apps it found to be malicious from the Android Market. Any app whether it is wallpaper, a game, or some other product can be malicious. The worst offenders are the apps that attempt to root your smartphone essentially giving someone total control over your smartphone. One such Trojan that was circulating in the apps Google removed was called Droid Dream.
So are you wondering whether these devices are worth all of the risk? The answer is yes, so far. The risks aren't too great, yet. However, the primary prevention tactic is an easy one: vigilance. Yes, there are security apps that scan apps for malware and you should consider installing them. But with many of these malware apps like with most scams, a lot of times it is looking at the information requested of you. In the case of apps it’s a question of what permissions that app wants. In the case of scams via text message, email, or phone it’s a question of what the person is telling you. While not all scams can be stopped with vigilance, it is the first line of defense for consumers. In the end it’s a personal determination whether the smartphone is worth all the potential headaches and you should take those concerns into consideration, but remember not having a smartphone will not stop people from trying to scam you they will just use other means. Mail fraud anyone?