Securing Yourself Against Cell Phone Scams

Scammers have been in business since before the cell phone. The famous Nigerian scam itself first appeared as a fax machine message. Almost 30 years later, the same Nigerian scam is still being used in its various forms. To protect yourself from a scam, you have to expand your reactions from just deleting messages. You also have to take advantage of what is on offer by companies which value your business.

There are the following steps you can take or the credit company takes to ensure that your device and yourself are safe from being hacked or scammed.

1. Online only credit card

There are now credit card facilities which help protect the user against hacking. For instance, some credit card companies give away a separate credit card exclusively for online purchases. The point of this card is to ensure better security for online purchases. Fraud can be easily detected with this method because the transaction would also have an electronic trail. This includes the device IP and location of the user for the transaction.

2. One time password (OTP)

Related to the above, and in most instances also as an added protection, the user is sent a one-time password via text message after the transaction has been paid. The user has a limited amount of time to key in the OTP on the computer. If the OTP was not keyed in, the transaction elapses and does not continue. This is a simple method where the credit card company makes sure that you are the one who is using the credit card.

3. Verification Phone Call

In lieu of the one-time password, some credit card companies will call the user on their cell phone to confirm that the credit card is in use. This is more secure than the above, but may not be possible for all instances. There are times when the call does not push through because of low signal strength or some other technical problem.

Users can also be more cognizant of scammers. When you are suspicious of an email, a text message or a phone call here are some things that you can do. Even when you send your phone to the cell phone repair shop, take steps to make sure that your phone does not lead to an incursion.

— Confirm before you answer

One way scammers have been successful is because the user answers the prompt. It can be a phone call, a text message or even an email. When you are in doubt of the source, ask a question. On the phone, a simple text message like “Who is this?” can be a great help in stopping scammers.

For emails, the email address is usually a dead giveaway. Google has alerts which notify the user that the email might be a scam. When in doubt, do not answer back. If it is urgent, the email sender would give more details about his inquiry.

— Do not provide any information

The problem with scammers is they have the luxury of time, and of waiting for any answer from hundreds or even thousands of emails. If there is an inquiry which requires personal information, do not provide these details. If you think that the questions are too personal or sound absurd, they most probably are. Some question which would look suspicious are the name of your pet, the street name where you grew up, the name of your favorite uncle, or even your mother’s maiden name. These are answers to verification questions, and if you provide these answers, it can lead to identity theft.

— Block the caller or the email address

T-Mobile recently introduced an anti-scammer blocking feature. T-Mobile pre-screens the calling phone number against a database of known scammer phones from around the world. If the caller is in the list, the phone call is blocked and does not continue. This is the basic method which is used by WordPress in blocking comments for their blogs. The commenter’s IP address is compared with a list of IP addresses of known scammers or spammers and if it is in the list, the comment is flagged.

This method does have its downsides. The margin for error is relatively large. You might know the caller, and the number has been recycled, among other possible scenarios. However, the idea remains, that if you do not know the number, or if you think that the call you received is from a scammer, you can block the number from calling you. In the same manner, scammer emails can also be blocked. In the worst case, you can report the number to your mobile phone service provider, and it would be blocked at the exchange.

Being Vigilant

The main idea against scammers, spammers, phishing attempts, and other such nefarious activities is to be on constant guard. You may have an anti-spammer service. However, you should still be vigilant that the service can be breached. Accounts can be hacked at the server, or someone you know may have accessed your phone and installed a monitoring app. These things do happen more often than people realize.

Being safe should always be at the back of your mind. It is not being paranoid if the threat does exist. There is nothing wrong about trying to be safe and putting up various safeguards. It is much easier to block or otherwise turn your back on a suspicious conversation rather than clean up after. Some companies have paid a big price due to their lack of adequate security procedures. As an individual, you would be hard put to recover after an attack.


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