9 ways to protect yourself against mobile fraud

Library | 4/22/2020
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Mobile fraud is defined as any activity that uses your mobile phone to scam or defraud you – activities including the stealing of your personal information, accessing your credit card numbers and using them to make purchases, or trying to convince you to purchase something you don’t want or need.


Some of the most common methods of mobile fraud include:

  • Subscription fraud – when someone uses your contact information to sign you up for a subscription service you do not want.

  • Using prepaid cards on mobile apps – when someone hacks an app and gains access to your prepaid card number to make purchases and/or reload funds to your prepaid card.

  • Phishing – when someone cons you by sending you a text or email that looks like an authentic message asking for you to submit your personal information (such as login info) and then uses that information to make purchases on apps you are already using or on online stores that you visit.


Fraudsters often call individuals directly, pretend to be someone else, and ask for information; some phone scams can even be threatening and try to scare you into sending money.


So, what can you do to protect yourself? Here are some helpful tips:


1.  Don’t talk to strangers.

Kindergarten taught you well. Anyone who calls you when you have not asked them to is suspect – sales people, businesses that you do business with, even charities. You have no way to know who they really are. Simply don’t answer these calls, or if you do, don’t feel bad about hanging up.


2.  Don’t give out ANY information.

Don’t confirm or give out your name or address or give out any information – SS number, credit card or bank account numbers, PIN numbers, passwords, etc. to anyone who calls you. Reputable businesses will not ask for this information over the phone.


3.  Don’t be rushed.

Scammers often create artificial deadlines to scare people into acting immediately and before they’ve had time to think it through. Don’t let anyone pressure you to do anything.


4.  Don’t trust emails or texts.

Don’t click on links, open attachments or click on any pop-up screens from sources you are unfamiliar with. Even if you know the source, if the message doesn’t sound like your contact or just includes a link, a hacker could be using that person’s name/email to trick you. This is a common phishing scam. Go with your gut. If a message seems weird, just delete it.


5.  Watch for imposters.

Some fraudsters call people claiming to be the IRS or other authority figures. The IRS will never call you or email you asking for payment without first having contacted you via mail, and they will not ask for a credit card or debit card number via email or phone or demand immediate payment


​6.  Protect your phone.

Be sure your phone automatically locks out people and requires a passcode before use (newer phones may use touch ID or facial recognition – even better). This will protect the information on your phone if it is lost or stolen. If you are getting rid of your current phone, before sure to wipe all of your information off of it (using specialized software or following manufacturer’s instructions) before selling, donating or trading in your phone.


7.  Set strong passwords on apps and sites you frequent.

Most sites now require an 8-character password with a mix of upper and lowercase letters and numbers, as well as special characters. Avoid using passwords that people might be able to guess such as your birthday, 12345, or “password”. Here are some tips for creating strong passwords. 


8.  Don’t overshare on social media.

Update the privacy settings on your social media sites so they are as private as possible (i.e. only your designated friends can see your posts and profile). Even with those settings in place, avoid posting personal information like your birth date, address, or mother’s maiden name.


9.  Use online banking to protect yourself.

Online and mobile banking are highly secure, convenient options for managing your finances. You can check in on your account status any time, day or night, and opt to receive push notifications for transactions so you will immediately know if there is any questionable activity going on. Check out Valley’s Personal Online Banking or learn about our mobile app.


The best way to avoid mobile fraud is to stay alert, be smart, and don’t give out any personal information. If you do think you’ve been a victim of mobile fraud, be sure to report it immediately to your bank, cancel your credit cards and contact the police. You can also report the incident to the FTC by calling its consumer hot line at 877-FTC-HELP (877-382-4357).


How to protect elderly relative from financial scams
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How to protect elderly relative from financial scams

If you have an elderly parent, grandparent or relative you care about, there are steps you can take to help prevent them from falling prey to scammers and protect the money they’ve spent a lifetime to gain.

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