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Smartphone users being targeted by criminals

Jasmine Birtles 7th Nov 2011 No Comments

Reading Time: 2 minutes

If you have a smartphone (like a Blackberry, iPhone, Android or any of the ‘clever’ phones) beware of dodgy ‘apps’ that could steal your money.

This is the warning from the people behind Get Safe Online week (which is this week)

Apparently, smart phone users are getting a nasty surprise when they see their monthly bills, discovering that they have run up huge phone bills for premium-rate text messages they did not send. As 17% of smart phone users now use their phone for money matters fraudsters are using online app stores to entice smart phone users to download rogue apps. Often masquerading as ‘free levels’ to popular and legitimate online games, or even as security tools, these rogue apps disguise malicious software (malware) which the user unwittingly downloads at the same time.

Once downloaded, this malware enables fraudsters to take control of the victim’s phone, allowing them to make calls, send and intercept SMS and voicemail messages, and browse and download online content. This enables them to gain access to all personal and payment data available on the phone – which can then be sold onto and used by identity fraudsters – and to ‘spam’ other mobile web users to commit further fraud.

In this latest scam, fraudsters are using this access to repeatedly send SMS messages to their own premium-rate services. Often the victim is unaware anything is wrong until they see their phone bill, or their network provider identifies ‘suspicious’ activity – by which time the fraudsters have moved on to other victims. These premium-rate SMS message scams are stealthier than previous premium-rate call scams because they do not ‘tie up’ a victim’s phone line and are able to hide any suspicious activity from the user.

So if you have a smartphone, BE CAREFUL which apps you download and where from!

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Jasmine Birtles

Your money-making expert. Financial journalist, TV and radio personality.

Jasmine Birtles

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