Alex Thomas Salder, clarkhoward.com
When we talk about protecting your money, debit and credit card fraud have always been one of the primary concerns. But there’s now a new threat to your wallet that’s becoming an increasingly popular way for criminals to get access to people’s accounts.
According to a recent report from Consumer Reports, stolen credit card numbers are no longer worth what they used to be to thieves.
“There’s just not as much money in stealing credit card numbers anymore, as the seeming inevitability of wide-scale retail breeches means the market is oversaturated with stolen cards,” writes Kate Cox, author of the report. “Even criminal markets are subject to the law of supply and demand, and so that card data is just not worth as much to the criminal trying to sell it anymore, on average.”
While this doesn’t mean you shouldn’t continue taking precautions to protect your debit and credit cards, what it does mean is that there are other threats you need to worry about — on top of debit and credit card fraud.
Hackers using malware to access mobile banking information
As technology continues to evolve, so do the tactics of criminals.
The security of mobile banking has always raised concerns for many people, especially people who aren’t the most technology savvy. And for people who are, the lack of concern can also become an issue — as people seem to let their guard down when using a smartphone, regardless of what they’re doing on it.
Mobile banking apps use a variety of security measures to protect your information, including complicated passwords, tools like thumbprint or facial scanning, and two-factor authentication. But none of that will stop a hacker from accessing your accounts if there’s malware on your phone.
According to Consumer Reports, this type of malware can be loaded onto your phone when you click on an infected text message or advertisement. And you won’t know that it happened — the malware just sits in the background until you open of the banking apps targeted by the hackers.
Here’s how it works: Once the malware is in your phone, when you open your banking app, the software creates a fake overlay that looks just like your app — so you have no idea what’s happening. Then when you log in, the software grabs all of your information — sending it directly to hackers.
That’s it. Now your password is in the hands of criminals without you having a clue.
And according to The Wall Street Journal, hackers have created these fake overlays for 50 of the biggest banking apps.
How to protect yourself
Smartphones have caused people to let their guard down, partly because so much of what we do on smartphones is personal, like texting, email, social media etc.
So cell phones have become extremely vulnerable to threats of identity theft and other types type of cybercrime. And the problem is, most cell phone users don’t use any type of anti-virus or anti-malware software.
All the threats you face on your laptop or desktop — email scams, fake websites, criminals stealing your info from shopping or banking sites (just to name a few) — these are now being carried out on smartphones and mobile sites, so it is crucial that you take steps to protect yourself on mobile — whether it’s email, text, browsing the Internet or using apps.
So here are a few ways to protect yourself:
- Know exactly what your banking app looks like: Take a screen shot and print it out so you can be familiar with it. That way you can look for anything that seems a little off when you log in — like if the logo is a little wonky or anything else.
- Check your accounts every day: Log in to your bank, credit card and other financial accounts every day from a secure computer with a secure Internet connection. Keeping tabs on everything daily will allow you to catch any potential fraud immediately and be able to report it ASAP.
- Don’t use the same password for your banking log-in that you use anywhere else: Your bank, credit card and other financial accounts should each have unique passwords.
- Never click on any email, text or link you weren’t expecting or don’t recognize: If you think there may be an issue, call the bank directly.
- Protect your phone with antivirus and malware protection software. Here are some options to consider.
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