Scam Emails Archive : Generic

Subject: Scamdex, Internet Scambusters Newsletter #315, 12-24-08

From: "Scambusters Editors" <>

This email with the subject "Scamdex, Internet Scambusters Newsletter #315, 12-24-08" was received in one of Scamdex's honeypot email accounts on Wed, 24 Dec 2008 01:03:34 -0800 and has been classified as a Generic Scam.

The sender was "Scambusters Editors" <>, although it may have been spoofed.


Internet Scambusters (tm)
The #1 Publication on Internet Fraud

By Audri and Jim Lanford
Issue #315  December 24, 2008


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Hi Scamdex,

Today's issue is about cell phone scams.

Cell phone technology, and its cheap availability, have made a
huge difference in the way we communicate and the speed with
which we can get and stay in touch.

But it provides a lucrative channel for scammers and snoopers,
who use the technology to steal our money or our identity, and
even to track our movements and listen to our conversations.

In today's issue, we explain the 10 most common cell phone
scams and show you the steps you can take to protect yourself.

Before we begin, we recommend you check out this week's issue
of Scamlines -- What's New in Scams? -- here.

Next, you may want to spend a moment looking at this week's
most popular articles from our other sites:

Do You Really Need a Business Credit Card?

Can a Chimney Log Really Replace a Chimney Sweep?

Does Four-Wheel Drive Give You An Advantage In The Snow?

Holiday articles:

Bah Humbug! The Importance of Christmas Stories

Is Re-Gifting Really the Bane of Christmas Etiquette?

Christmas Coloring Pages -- and What to Do With Them

Now, here we go...

The 10 Most Common Cell Phone Scams and How to Avoid Them

Cell phones have changed our lives, but so have cell phone

This clever technology that keeps us constantly in touch with
friends, relatives and even the Internet may be a boon, but it
has also opened up more of the airwaves to crooks and

In some cases, further technological advances have made it
tougher for certain cell phone scams to work, but elsewhere
the crooks are having a field day.

In this Scambusters issue, we identify 10 of the most common
cell phone scams and the action you can take to avoid or
reduce the risk of them.

1. Subscriber fraud

Subscriber fraud is simply an offshoot of identity theft. It
is far and away the biggest cell phone scam, costing the
industry an estimated $150m a year and causing untold anguish
to the victims.

How it works: Someone steals your personal details and opens a
cell phone account in your name, racking up huge bills that
may land in your mailbox.

Action: Take all possible steps to protect yourself against
identity theft. You can find more about identity theft in this
Scambusters article.

2. Stolen or lost phones

An estimated three million cell phones are stolen or lost in
the US every year! In the wrong hands they can be used to make
unauthorized calls -- one recent victim faced a $26,000 bill.

Alternatively, they can be mined for any personal and contact
details stored on them. In other words, loss of your phone can
be just a prelude for costly identity theft.

Action: Look after your cell phone as carefully as you care
for your wallet. If you must use it to store confidential
information, use password protection. See this article on cell
phone theft and passwords.

3. Cloning

Crooks use scanners to read your cell phone identity,
including the number and its unique serial number.

Then they program another phone with the same details and make
calls at your expense.

Action: This is one area where the crime fighters have made
progress, with new technology that makes it more difficult to
scan for the number. There's nothing more you can do other
than keep a close eye on your bill.

4. Eavesdropping

Cell phone scam merchants may find it more difficult to scan
for your phone ID but they can do potentially much more
dangerous things -- like listening in to your calls and
downloading your phone usage records.

They can even track your phone to know where you are or where
you have been at a particular time.

One piece of perfectly legal software can be secretly
installed on someone else's cell phone, then the crook -- or
concerned spouse -- can dial in and snoop.

They can listen to your phone calls, download copies of text
messages and numbers dialed, or even just silently activate
the phone and use its microphone to monitor any nearby sounds
or conversations.

And people who use Bluetooth short-range radio to connect a
hands-free headset to their cell phone can be targeted by
nearby scammers using Bluetooth to eavesdrop.

Action: If you don't let your phone out of your sight and
always password protect it, people can't install software on
it. But, to be on the safe side, always switch the phone fully
off so it can't be activated when confidentiality could be

Bluetooth users should un-select the "discoverable" option on
their devices. See this Scambusters article for more info.

5. Ringtone cell phone scams

Apart from driving nearby people crazy with their awful
sounds, users of downloaded ringtones could be exposing
themselves to a couple of potentially costly cell phone scams.

Some tones -- usually free ones or those exchanged via
peer-to-peer software -- have been hacked by scammers and can
install a virus that either damages the phone or steals
confidential information.

Second, you may get a text message inviting you to download a
ringtone by returning another message or calling a 1-800
number. But when you do this, you may incur a hefty charge
and/or unwittingly sign up for a monthly charge for services
you don't want.

Action: Get your tones only from established, reputable
companies. And don't return messages or calls from people or
organizations you don't know.

6. Bogus text messages

There are numerous variations of this cell phone scam but the
bottom line is that you receive an unsolicited text message
(which you may have to pay for!) which prompts you take some
sort of action you'll later regret.

Most common is what seems to be a message from your bank (this
may also arrive as an automated voicemail) saying your account
has been suspended and asking you to call a 1-800 number where
your account number, PIN and other details may be requested.
In reality, your identity is being stolen.

Another variation is a "pump and dump" ruse, where you receive
a tip urging you to buy stock in a particular company. If enough
people fall for it, the share price goes up and the scammers
offload their previously worthless stock for a profit.

Action: If you get any message supposedly from your bank, call
them on their normal number to check it out. And never buy
stock on the basis of a single tip -- from any source.

7. The old switcheroo

You get a call from what seems to be your cell phone company
offering you what they claim is a better deal than your
present one, or maybe even telling you your current deal is
coming to an end and that you must switch.

In reality, it's a competitor, another phone store, trying to
switch you over to one of their packages, which may or may not
be better than your current one. But since they're trying to
deceive you, assume it's better not to do business with them.

Action: Ask the caller to give you some info about your
current phone usage. If they can't tell you when you made your
last call or sent an SMS message, they're not who they say
they are.

8. Catches in the small print

Sometimes you find what seems to be a really sweet cell phone
rental deal. You don't find out you've been ripped off till
the bill arrives, showing all sorts of additional charges you
didn't know about.

In one travel scam case we reported previously, renters of
temporary cell phones were taken in by a money-back deal,
offering a refund of the rental fee when the phone was
returned. But the credit card they provided was used to levy
exorbitant charges for the calls themselves.

Usually these deals are perfectly legitimate and the sting is
hidden away in the small print of the Terms & Conditions.

Action: Read the Terms & Conditions!

9. Vote with your phone

During the recent presidential election, people received text
or recorded messages offering them the chance to cast their
vote by phone, simply by pressing a key for each of the

Turned out this was a trick targeted at voters of one
political persuasion or another, to stop victims from actually
casting their vote for real.

Action: You can't vote this way -- yet. It's also a Federal
offense to trick people out of their votes.

10. Beware of these hoaxes

Finally, there are a couple of hoaxes related to cell phone
scams to look out for:

* An email that warns against taking a call from a bogus
engineer who asks you to key in 90# for a test of your cell
phone. The message claims the caller can then use a scanner to
collect ID numbers for cloning or to collect other
confidential information. It's an urban legend and untrue.

* You get a message warning you that cell phone companies will
soon be releasing all mobile numbers to telemarketers and that
to avoid them you must add your number to the "do not call"

Sometimes, this is just a bit of mischief; other times they
ask you to call a bogus number for which you will be charged
an excessive fee.

Fact is, cell phone numbers are not publicly available for
marketing in this way.

OK, we said '10' but number 10 wasn't really a scam, was it?

So, let's just add one more cell phone scam that applies to
almost anything you want to buy -- the Too Good to Be True
deal. You know the sort of thing -- the cell phone of your
dreams, with all the latest gadgetry and doo-hickeys at an
unbelievably low price. It's almost always a scam.

Action: Don't even think about it...

That's it for today -- we hope you enjoy your week!

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