FBI Warns Of Mobile Cyber Threats
Criminals will target holiday shoppers with SMS text and voice mail scams, or smishing and vishing, said the agency.
As if online phishing scams aren't enough to worry about, people also should be wary of criminal efforts targeting their cell phones, the FBI is warning.
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The agency's Internet Crime Complaint Center (IC3) said that creative criminals will be using scams called "smishing" or "vishing" to steal people's personal information, such as bank account numbers, personal identification number (PIN) codes, or credit card numbers.
Smishing is a combination of SMS texting and the common online practice of phishing, which uses e-mails to direct people to websites where they are asked to give up personal information.
In a smishing scam, people receive a text message on their phone telling them there's a problem with their bank account. The message will contain a phone number to call or a website to log into.
To pull off these crimes, people set up an automated dialing system to text or call mobile phone subscribers in a particular region or area code. They also steal phone numbers from banks and credit companies and target people on these lists, according to the FBI.
If a person follows through and follows directions, it's likely there's a criminal on the other end stealing personal information.
Vishing is similar to smishing except instead of an SMS, a person will receive a voicemail giving them the same information.
People who fall victim to mobile device scams could be in danger even if they stop short of giving up the information requested, the FBI warned. If they only log onto the fake website via their mobile device, they could end up downloading malicious software giving criminals access to anything on their phone, the agency said.
To protect themselves from these new types of scams, the FBI's IC3 is recommending that people refrain from responding to text messages or automated voice messages from unknown or blocked numbers.
With the proliferation of using the web on mobile phones, people also should treat their phones like they would their PCs, and avoid downloading any applications or files to a mobile device unless it comes from a trusted source, the agency said.
People also should be more cautious when making purchases on mobile devices and only use legitimate payment services and credit cards -- not bank accounts or debit cards -- to do so. The FBI recommends credit cards for all online purchases because people can work with a credit card company to refute any unauthorized charges on a bill, while this process is trickier when dealing with funds from a bank account.
As usual, people also should continue to protect themselves while surfing the web on their computers. The FBI, as it did last holiday season, recommended that people ignore unsolicited e-mails requesting personal information, and refrain from clicking on links or attachments contained within those e-mails.
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