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Around 15 billion mobile devices are being used in the world today, with that number expected to rise to 17.72 billion by 2024. And mobile ecommerce, which already accounts for over half of all sales, is estimated to reach 72.9% of the market by the end of 2021.

We now use our mobile devices for multiple purposes, and new ones are constantly appearing. Questions such as ‘can I set up a video conference from my phone’ or ‘can I tether my phone to my laptop’ are being asked more often as we come to rely increasingly on our mobiles. And using mobile marketing to grow your business is an excellent tactic in this digital age.

But as our use of mobile devices increases, so too do the risks we encounter, and there is a considerable lack of user awareness when it comes to mobile security. Many users make the erroneous assumption that security risks are not as high on a mobile device as they are on a desktop or laptop computer.

Knowing the dangers we face and how to avoid them is essential if we are to improve our security and protect our information and data.

Most Common Types of Mobile Fraud

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1. Account Takeover

By far the most significant threat you face, account takeovers (ATOs) account for 89% of digital mobile fraud. These can happen because of data leaks that reveal customers’ information, theft of unsecured mobile devices, and poor authentication/ passwords. ATOs can also occur through phishing; fraudsters attempt to obtain your details through fake emails, websites, etc.

2. Call Center Fraud

Fraudsters may infiltrate your device and secure accounts by obtaining your personal details over the phone within a call center, under the guise of being a trusted service, like a bank or software company. While some of your accounts may have an extra security level (such as a pin number for financial services), information obtained can still be used to access many of your less secure accounts.

3. Subscription

Here, fraudsters open a mobile subscription in your name and then use it to sign up for services. In some cases, they can also use it to access accounts secured by 2FA (2-factor authentication). This type of fraud may not be discovered until the fraudsters are long gone.

4. Stolen Devices

We store so much info on our devices without thinking of the possible risks. Websites we visit, apps, logins, etc. In fact, around 34% of mobile-related fraud originates from known/ trusted devices. And ‘stealing’ your device does not need to happen physically. Malware can be used to gain access to your device and to steal your data and credentials remotely.

5. SMS Fraud

Sometimes we get an SMS message that seems tempting; a competition entry or an option to subscribe to a service. Many people do not realize (until it’s too late) that some of these are premium SMS services and, if you sign up, each message could cost you as much as $10, which is directly billed to you.

6. Prepaid Card Fraud

This type of mobile fraud is hard to trace and, if you are a victim, any losses are nonrefundable. It happens when a scammer, who may have some of your information, calls you and offers discounts or upgrades in return for a prepaid gift card. By pretending to be customer service in virtual conferencing websites, they can often convince you to follow through with their requests.

How to Spot a Potential Call Scam/ Fraud

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Fraudsters are good at what they do and can often sound convincing. They may even have some personal information about you and thereby make you think they’re genuine. But there are some warning signs that you should be aware of.

1. Pretending to Represent an Organization

Fraudsters will often pretend to represent a company or organization you’re familiar with. But these will also be those that you’re more likely to call yourself than receive a call from. They could say they are the IRS or your insurance company or even returns management for a recent purchase. And they will often use technology to disguise their real number.

2. Prize or Payment

A typical opening gambit of many scam callers presents you with an issue to be resolved (such as you owing money in taxes or your computer having a virus) or the need to verify an account. Another tactic is to tell you that you have won a prize or money but that you need to pay a fee to receive it.

3. Action

One constant across all scam calls is that you’re told to act immediately to avoid penalties, claim your prize, etc. They may even tell you that there are legal repercussions such as arrest, being sued, losing your driver’s license, etc., if you do not act immediately and make any required payment. The scammers’ alarm may appear at the time to you just as an example of good customer service on video conferencing platforms, but you should be tipped off by their desire to rush you through the process up to payment.

4. Payment

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Another warning sign of a phone scam is how they request payment. It will often be an unusual method such as sending payment by a transfer service or even purchasing a gift card, then providing its details. Any type of payment request that differs from how you would usually pay should immediately alert you that this is most likely a scam or fraud.

How to Avoid Mobile Fraud and Secure Your Data

While our list of fraud types is not exhaustive, it does represent the most common mobile-related fraud. So how can you take steps to avoid cash fraud and protect your information and data? We will look at six practical tips that could save you from being defrauded in the future.

1. Passwords

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Your password can be either your greatest strength or weakness. Your password should be no less than 8 characters in length, and you should use a mix of lower and upper-case letters, numbers, and special characters. While it may seem tempting and easy to remember, avoid using the same password for different apps and websites you access from your mobile device.

Especially for banking and similar apps, it’s worth using a trusted password manager to create more complex passwords. This is compatible with any app, from a work-related project management app to a food delivery service. And where it’s an option, use multi-level authentication. If you access sensitive apps from your mobile, then change your passwords regularly; every 60-90 days is an advisable timeframe for this action.

2. Be Aware of Information Requests

Most organizations, especially banks or financial institutions, will never send an email or SMS requiring you to divulge confidential information, such as account numbers, passwords, social security numbers, etc. If you receive such a request, don’t just panic and reply immediately. Be skeptical and get in touch with your bank itself to determine what sort of information they would request via email.

You must also pay close attention to the address such a request is sent from. Fraudsters will often disguise this, so at first glance, it looks genuine. No matter how authentic an email or SMS appears, never share any sensitive data with the sender. And for businesses, be aware of emails that appear to come from a supplier that also ask for sensitive info.

3. Updates & Protection

Scammers and fraudsters are constantly coming up with new ways to obtain your data. But phone and security companies are also always trying to stay one step ahead of them. Either check for updates regularly (and install them) or, where possible, turn on automatic updates, so the most recent patches, fixes, and updates are automatically added to your phone.

And consider installing trusted antivirus/ anti-malware programs, anti-spyware, good firewalls, etc., to your phone to give you more protection. These specialist programs consistently identify recent and new threats and develop ways to protect against them or remove them from your phone. If you have one installed, either run regular scans or set up a routine scheduled automatic scan.

And if you are wondering how to do a conference call on android, always consider using video conferencing software that offers a high degree of security. Scammers will take any opportunity to access data and information they can use later. Even the best free conference call service may offer the protection you need.

4. Phishing Expeditions

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Phishing, and the resulting ATOs, are the most common type of cybercrime today. In 2020, the FBI reported 241,324 incidents. Phishing uses email or cleverly constructed websites to harvest data by tricking you into parting with sensitive information. If you don’t recognize the source, never click on any links, pop-ups, or attachments.

By having a good spam filter in your email account, most phishing expeditions will be identified. If you get an email or SMS from a party posing as an organization you use, you should report it to the organization and forward the mail to the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) at [email protected]

5. Social Media

Many fraudsters look to harvest your information from your social media platforms. They will often ‘clone’ a profile that is already on your list then send you a connection request. People will then innocently accept these requests as they, wrongly, assume that their friend has made a new account for whatever reason. Always be cautious when accepting a request.

Scammers will also gather valuable data from any profiles that have been left unrestricted in their visibility. Review your privacy settings and what information can be seen regularly. That can include information such as where you work, your date of birth, etc. Those may seem like basic and harmful pieces of info but can be the starting point for many mobile scams and fraud.

6. Cautious Surfing

Protecting your data is not just about being aware of incoming threats. It is also about being aware of the sites you visit when surfing and what security they offer. Many fake websites appeared at the start of the Covid pandemic selling masks, PPE, etc. But fake ecommerce websites are a very real problem.

These sites look totally genuine, and you may see them advertise on social media, or you may receive what looks like an authentic marketing email. They seek not only to have you spend money on goods or services you’ll never receive but also to gather your details for further fraud. If your browser shows a site as ‘Not secure’ or an ‘Insecure connection’, then you should not visit it.

Businesses that operate online constantly look at the best ways to enhance retail cybersecurity to ensure your data and information are safe. So, if you have any doubts about a site you visit, leave and report. They also use the best data quality software to analyze their data and spot suspicious activity.

The Takeaway

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Knowing how to protect your data is an essential part of mobile use. But before you can even consider this, you must use the best website builders for your foundations and be willing to ask yourself questions like, ‘what is manual testing’ to make sure your site delivers a great customer experience.

Effective cybersecurity is required to combat increasingly complex cybercrime. But we should not always rely on tech companies to be the ones protecting us. A certain degree of ‘self-defense’ and awareness of risks can go a long way to safeguarding your data.

Read more: Should You Send Bank Account Numbers via Email to Your Client?