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The FBI recently announced two electronic identity theft scams that are flourishing. The first scam is through your mobile phone. Smartphone users should be aware of scams that target Android operating mobile devices by infecting them with malware programs, leading to identity theft. Fraudsters trick victims to click on links with advertisements which lead them to websites that will embed malware on their device. This information-stealing malware steals personal contact details from address books and telephone numbers. Malware can be disguised as a system update and is capable of taking over the mobile device. Fraudsters are able to remotely control and monitor the device no matter where the target is located.

The following are safety tips to protect your mobile device: 

  • Read reviews of app developers and publishers before downloading applications.
  • Review and understand the permissions you're giving when you download applications.
  • Password protect your phone to secure the contents of the device.
  • Obtain malware protection by looking for applications that specialize in antivirus or file integrity.
  • Be aware of apps that enable geo-location that tracks the user's location anywhere. Fraudsters can use them for stalking and burglaries.
  • Don't allow your device to connect to unknown wireless networks.
  • Make sure to "wipe" (reset it to factory default) your device if selling or trading in to avoid leaving personal data.
  • Don't click on links or download software from unknown sources.
  • When using the Internet, use the same precautions as you would on your laptop or desktop computer.

  • The second scam is on Travelers' laptop. It's reported that fraudsters target travelers when they set up hotel Internet connections on their laptops. Specifically, when travelers run software updates on their laptops they could potentially be installing malware. The malicious malware could lead to loss of personally identifiable information (PII).

    Take extra caution before updating software products through hotel Internet connections while traveling:

    • Update software on your laptop before traveling. If updates are necessary while traveling, only download software directly from the software vendors' website.
    • Be cautious of clicking on pop-up windows appearing to offer routine updates to legitimate software products. Check the digital certificate of any prompted update to see if corresponds to the software vendor.
    • If you think you're a victim, promptly report it to the FBI's Internet Crime Complaint Center at www.IC3.gov.

    • For more information or questions on this topic, please contact your professional at UHY LLP