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  • Phone Scams:

    Phone scams are a serious threat these days as more and more people are becoming increasingly dependent on smart phones. They are used to not only manage their contacts but also their financial information. This has made us sitting targets for phone scammers. According to reports, the incidents of phone scamming have quadrupled since 2015 and this only takes into account the complaints that have been actually registered by people.

    Although, financial organizations and governments are trying to spread awareness among people about phone scamming but the condition has not improved much. The scammers are continuously coming up with new techniques of tricking innocent people of their money.

    In the coming paragraphs we will discuss about the various perspectives of phone scamming and what threat they pose to us. We will also discuss about the ways to avoid being scammed and where we can go for help in the event of any mis-happening.

    Dangerous Things People Can Do With Your Phone Number:

    There are many easy ways to get hold of your phone number. Fake calls, social media profiles, blogs etc are some of the many ways that can be used to get hold of your phone number. You must be thinking, that ‘What is the big deal about it’? Well, the way these people use your mobile number, will scare you. Here are a few methods used by scammers to trick you, if they have your phone number:

    • 1 - Fake MMS message with an embedded virus: They can send a fake MMS message on your phone that carries a virus that quickly gains root access (Windows, Android or IOS). The virus then quietly starts phishing out your data. It also starts corrupting your files from within. Overall, your data is compromised and your phone starts getting ripped off from within.
    • 2 - Phone Lock: We have already read how they can implant a virus in our phone. There have also been instances when they are able to completely lock your phone down with all the sensitive information inside. They then ask for ransom, generally in terms of Bitcoin (as the buyer and seller stay relatively anonymous on both sides due to the block chain technology), to unlock your mobile phone. However, there have been instances where people have paid the ransom and their phones or computers never got unlocked. They ended up losing their data anyways.
    • 3 - Spoofing: Spoofing, in general, is a fraudulent or malicious practice in which communication is sent from an unknown source disguised as a source known to the receiver. Spoofing is most prevalent in communication mechanisms that lack a high level of security. Any mobile number can be spoofed and can then be used to launch a DOS attack on other websites. Similar cyber attacks can also be carried out where your mobile number will be one among the many carriers of the attack, without you even knowing about it. This is dangerous as you can get into a serious mess without any knowledge or involvement.
    • 4 - LAN hacking: Mobile number can also be used in a sophisticated way to hack your LAN connection. Just imagine the amount of damage that can be done by controlling your internet connection.
    • 5 - Harassing/Stalking: This is another common misuse of your mobile number. Scammers can search your social media profile through your mobile number (if you have shared it on your profile). Through it they can gather a lot of your personal information, your friends, your family, profession, address, photos etc. These information can then be used to Harass you or Stalk you on social media and also over your phone. They know a lot about you, your family, your friends and they know how to contact you. Well, this can sometimes really get ugly.

    Why They’re Calling You:

    Now let’s discuss about some of the most dangerous motives of Cell Phone Scammers and why they are calling you? If you are not aware, you may be their next victim.

    • 1 - Phone Cloning: Criminals may steal your cell phone number through the various ways discussed above. They can then set up a new phone with that number and receive all your calls and text messages. They will virtually be sharing your phone with you. They can also contact your friends on your behalf and can send messages to your contacts. Through your phone, they can access all your saved photos, documents and passwords. They can then gain virtual access to your social media accounts and bank accounts.

      There have been multiple reports of such scams all around the World. The scammers collect information about you through your social media accounts and they already have access to your phone. They then call your mobile service provider and request for service change. They can also contact your credit card company and request for change of details. As they already have access to your email as well (through your phone), they can get around 2FA (two factor authentication) emails. All this can have a devastating impact on your personal and financial life.

    • 2 - Scam your family and friends: As the criminals already have access to your phone, they can send fake messages or make calls to your contacts and ask them for financial assistance. They can dupe them in your name, thereby bringing unwanted social embarassment to you.
    • 3 - Fake calls in the name of bank or Credit Card Company: The scammers also make fake calls on your number, saying that they are calling on behalf of the bank or the credit card company. They then scare you by saying that your card or account is blocked. Then they ask you for your personal details to unblock your card.
    • 4 - Exploit Innocence: Another reason why they are calling you may be simply because they want to exploit you innocence into tricking you off your money.

    Signs of a Scam:

    Fake calls carry some of the most common signs of a scam. Every day we receive many promotional text messages and some phone calls promoting some stuff. Scammers try to tap into our psychology and do a few things that form a common trait of scam calls. Some such signals are as follows:

    • 1 - Call comes but no one responds: This is basically a confirmation call that you are the owner of that number.
    • 2 - Rush through the sales pitch: The scam callers will generally rush through their sales pitch, committing and promising a lot many things along the way. They do so in order to confuse you. They will not give you time to think or question. Even if you put up a query, they will be happy to respond. They can even tell you about a fake website or show you testimonials that are all set up to provide a legit environment. They will be very persuasive and consistent with their efforts.
    • 3 - The callers will present you with an attractive Ponzi scheme with a ‘rags to riches’ testimonial. The scheme will be too good to ignore and will be portrayed in a way that it suits your needs the best. They will try to convince you on all fronts and address all your queries. They also talk in a friendly and helpful way to weaken our reasoning and fill us with trust and emotions. Their sales pitch will promise prosperity and a great lifestyle for you and your family. It will tickle all your hidden desires and wishes. You will not be able to say ‘No’ to them.
    • 4 - Their focus will be to get your credit card or account details. They may also ask you for your email id and other personal information that they can use against you.

    The above mentioned are the most common signs of a scam. They should immediately ring your alarms when you receive a fake call. All the above tricks are aimed at promising you with money and prosperity. Logically thinking, if anyone really knew the ‘trick to be rich’, they would not be desperate enough to share it with you. They would be busy minting money for themselves. If the World would have been so fair, no one would be poor today. Have you ever heard of Bill Gates or Warren Buffet calling people to share their secret or strategies with them? This just never happens.

    Always remember, there is no such thing as ‘get rich quick’ in this world. This may happen with a few really lucky people, but everyone is not lucky. There is no other way to make money other than hard or smart work.

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