Make Your Smartphone An Ally In The Fights Against Scammers

More than three-quarters of Americans own smartphones, according to a 2017 Pew Research Center study. This makes smartphones a prime target for scammers. You can reduce your risk of becoming a victim if you make your smartphone an ally in the fight against scammers.

Choose Smartphones With Strong Encryption

Many smartphones use encryption to protect users’ data. Encrypted data is scrambled until it’s unlocked with a PIN code or fingerprint scan, for example. This prevents anyone other than the phone’s owner from accessing sensitive data.

If you take your data security seriously, look for phones with strong encryption credentials. For example, Apple devices operating with the iOS 8 system or higher require multiple pieces of information, one piece known to the device owner and another embedded into the device’s processor, to decrypt data. This keeps call logs, messages, notes, photographs, documents, and apps safe from scammers.


Lock Individual Apps

Third-party apps typically store information on their own servers rather than the smartphones. Some app servers aren’t encrypted, so you should lock your applications to keep data created by those apps safe.

Third-party applications like AppLock for Android and iAppLock for iOS phones make password-protecting your apps easy. You can lock all your applications or just the ones containing sensitive data, like your banking and budget apps. The information they contain then becomes inaccessible to anyone without your password.

Be Cautious Installing Apps

On installation, many apps ask users for permission to access certain parts of a smartphone, like its camera or contact list. Accessing these features is often essential for successful app operation. However, in the wrong hands, access can be abused. That’s why you should use caution when installing apps and only load those you trust.

Never download apps from a website you don’t know and trust. Smartphone app marketplaces like Google Play and iTunes are good options as they vet the apps they make available to consumers. However, Google Play’s screening isn’t as stringent as iTunes’. In some cases, malicious apps have been listed for months on the Google Play store before being removed.

Research each app’s developer. Large software firms with a history of releasing quality apps aren’t likely to release malicious apps. Check ratings and reviews to see other consumer opinions. Read through the terms of use and privacy policies so you know exactly what you’re agreeing to. Only download once you feel comfortable.

Block Your Phone Number When Returning Calls

You see a missed call from a number you don’t recognize so you dial the number to return it. Not so fast: While the call could be from a legitimate person or business, it might also come from a scammer. To avoid confirming your number to scammers, hide it before you dial.

Methods for blocking your number vary depending on your network provider. There’s a simple phone number blocking guide on the T-Mobile website. This guide shows T-Mobile users how to block their numbers for a phone call’s duration. Follow these steps every time you return a call from an unfamiliar number.

Avoid Public Wi-Fi

A 2016 Fraud Watch Network survey found that roughly 40 percent of adults connect to free public Wi-Fi at least once a month. More than 70 percent of public Wi-Fi users checked their social media accounts with the free connection in the past six months, 37 percent performed online banking activities, and one-third bought something with a credit card. All these activities leave users vulnerable.

Public Wi-Fi networks often lack security features, so tech-savvy scammers can hijack them. Once they take control, they can access your passwords, your credit card and bank account information, and other personal details that can jeopardize your financial security. Scammers have even established their own fake Wi-Fi hotspots to steal data from unsuspecting smartphone users.

Using your smartphone’s own network is a much safer option. Choosing a reliable network like T-Mobile makes sure you always have an internet connection when you need it, helping you resist the temptation to log on to unsecured public Wi-Fi.

The threat of smartphone scams is real, but if you’re proactive, you can avoid becoming a victim