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  • Writer's pictureBurton Kelso, Tech Expert

How to Protect Yourself from Smartphone Phishing Attacks

Your Apple and Android smartphones have strong security measures built in them to help you prevent your device from getting hacked. When your hear of a friend of colleague getting hacked, it's because they clicked on a link in an email or from a text message that appeared on their smartphone. Because smartphones are so secure, criminals have to create sophisticated methods like phishing to get your personal information. Phishing, which is the process of tricking you into giving up information like your bank details or passwords is used by criminals because your smart devices are secure. They come in many forms and prey on your fears or use your own greed to get you to react to the messages that pop up on your devices. Don’t become a victim, here’s how you can protect yourself from cell phone phishing attacks.

Phishing attacks are socially engineered, which means criminals use your natural fears in order to get you to act quickly, and without caution. The messages you receive will urge you to hurriedly sign into your account or confirm details without checking the source. Many of the scams attempt to convince you to click on links and visit official looking websites. Once you follow through with these actions, the scammer has what they need to steal your money. The only defense against phishing scams is constant vigilance and education. With that in mind, here are some of the more common phishing attacks, and what you can do to protect yourself.

SMS-based phishing. Texting is one of the most popular methods of communication which makes text messaging a tempting target for many phishers. SMS phishing, known as “smishing” follows many of the typical phishing rules. When looking at any text message that comes through on your smartphone, try to spot any of these giveaways such as bad grammar. If you’re sure a text you've received is phishing, block the number.

Call phishing. Another phishing method is a direct phone call also known as “vishing”. Like SMS smishing, criminals pretending to be your bank, the tax authorities, or someone else trying to gain valuable information. If you ever get a call from someone asking personal details, get the name of the organization contacting you and let them know you will call them back in order to protect your information. As with any text phishing attempts, make sure to block the number.

Social media phishing. Always be cautious of messages from friends requesting money or messages with links in them. Think about it, when you message friends on social media, how often will they ask you to lick on a link? Also avoid with social media quizzes which can be used to gather you personal information.

Fraudulent websites. Always be vigilant for websites masquerading as the real thing, especially banks and online stores. Always make sure to check the URL you’re clicking through to. For example, is not the same as — the first link would go to a specific page made to look like a bank site.

It’s hard for security measures to guard against phishing, because it's how you interact with the text, phone call or web site. Like Smokey Bear, used to say about forest fires, it's the same with phising scams, 'Only You Can prevent them' Here are some ways you can protect yourself from becoming a victim.

Stop sharing your mobile number. I realize many of you use your smartphone for your home and office number, but you really need to stop it. The more you share your number, the greater the chances it will wind up with a scammer. Get a free phone number from WhatsApp or Google Voice that you share with outside sources and only give out your mobile number to close family and friends.

Only install apps from authorized sources. The Google Play store and the Apple App store are the only places you should be downloading apps for your smartphone. Apple and Google do an excellent job scanning apps that could potentially scam you. Also, when downloading apps be sure to read the reviews to see if the app is legitimate.

Turn on caller ID or other services. Many mobile phone carriers now offer services that highlight scam calls. Check with your provider to see if this service is offered. If you get a lot of phishing calls, consider getting Robokiller. This app will block all known scam calls so you never get them. Criminals are now spoofing or faking local numbers. Just because it's a local number doesn't mean its not a scammer. You can always use the Burton Method and just let all unknown messages go to voice mail.

I'm not trying to be mean, but there's no advice or app that replaces common sense. When you get a text, phone call or message on social media, step back and take a moment to read and listen to what is being said. If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is. If someone is trying to force you to make a quick decision, or if they’re asking for confidential information, then they might be trying to rip you off. Be cautious and always think twice, and you won’t get scammed.

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