Alex Thomas Salder
Text scams have become an increasingly effective way for criminals to steal personal information.
For whatever reason, smartphones have caused people to let their guard down — and scammers are taking advantage of the fact that many people will open just any text or email they receive on their phone.
And the latest attacks are targeting Apple users.
Beware of iMessage and Apple ID hacks
According to a report by Mashable, users have been reporting “hack attacks” tied to their iMessage and Apple ID accounts — and it’s happening on both computers and smartphones.
One of Mashable’s own employees first spotted the scam when she received a message, written in Chinese, to her computer’s iMessage account from a foreign phone number. She then got a notification from Apple that her Apple ID was being used on another device.
The notification only provided one option — to click “OK.” And after clicking that button, the Mashable employee says her iMessageaccount immediately received message after message from a foreign number, again with text written in Chinese.
She changed her Apple ID password and security questions, and then contacted Apple Support. Apple said it’s probably hackers trying to steal personal information and that the hack is fairly new, but the company’s developers are working on a solution. Apple did not know whether the user’s personal information had been exposed.
If you think your Apple ID may have been compromised, Apple has a resource page with more information.
How to protect yourself from similar scams
The lesson: Even if a message appears to be from a trusted source, don’t trust it!
Here’s a general rule of thumb for avoiding these types of scams: Do not click on any link in any email or text message that you were not expecting. If there’s a question and you think there’s a legitimate message or notification intended for you, go directly to the official website of whatever business it is and check for any notifications there.
If you receive a message from an unknown number, delete it! Don’t open it, don’t click anything — just delete it. It’s better to be safe than sorry.
If a company needs you to update your profile, you should be able to find that information by logging in to your account separately through the official site — or by calling the company directly.
Read more: Why you need two-factor authentication for every account
Here are some additional tips to help you protect yourself from text message scams:
- Just hit delete! Ignore instructions to confirm your phone number or visit a link. Some scam texts instruct you to text “STOP” or “NO” to prevent future texts. But this is a common ploy by scammers to confirm they have a real, active phone number.
- Read your phone bill: Check your phone bill for services you haven’t ordered. Some charges may appear only once, but others might be monthly “subscriptions.”
- Check accounts frequently: You should check any account that contains your personal information on a consistent basis. That way you can spot any potential fraud before it causes serious damage.
- Know your rights: Real commercial text messages must provide a free, easy way for you to opt out of future communication. Learn more here.
- Know how to combat spam texts:In Canada, an anti-spam law covers text messages. Learn more about reporting and fighting spam here. In the U.S., forward the texts to 7726 (SPAM on most keypads), but don’t click any links. This will alert your cell phone carrier to block future texts from those numbers.
- Watch out for look-alike URLs: Just because a URL has the name of a real company in it, doesn’t mean it’s legitimate. Anyone can register a sub-domain (realcompany.website.com) or similar URL (realcompany1234.com).
- Ask your phone carrier about blocking third-party charges: Mobile phone carriers permit outside businesses to place charges on your phone bill, but many carriers also allow you to block these charges for free.
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