School of Information Systems

Internet, email and mobile phone fraud

Metropolitan Police

Mobile phone scams

Smartphones are mini-computers, so take all the same precautions with them as you would with your own computer at home.

What you should know

If you use an online banking app, only use the official app provided by your bank. If in doubt, contact your bank to check.

Only download apps from official app stores, such as:

  • Apple iTunes
  • Android Marketplace
  • Google
  • Play Store
  • BlackBerry World

Downloading them from unofficial or unknown sources could infect your phone with a virus.

Keep your phone’s operating system updated with the latest security patches and upgrades. Your operating system provider normally sends these.

Never give your mobile banking security details, including your passcode, to anyone else and don’t store them on your phone.

For added security set up a password or PIN to lock your mobile.

Just like on your computer, you can get antivirus tools for your mobile; use a reputable brand. Some banks offer free antivirus software for their customers’ phones. Check your bank’s website for more information.

Be wary of clicking on links in a text message or email. Don’t respond to unsolicited messages or voicemails on your phone. Your bank will never email or text to ask for your PIN or full password.

Examples of mobile phone scams

Text scams offering you money for an accident you may have had is often a ploy to get your personal details. Don’t reply, even by sending a ‘STOP’ text. Simply delete the message.

You may get a text or advert encouraging you to enter a competition for a great prize. The scammers will charge extremely high rates for the messages you send them, as high as £2 per text message. Don’t reply.

‘Trivia scams’ involve you answering general knowledge questions to win a prize. The first few questions will be very easy, so you keep playing. But the last one or two questions you need to answer to claim your ‘prize’ could be very difficult or even impossible.

If you try to claim your prize, you may have to call a premium-rate number, often beginning 0906. You then have to listen to a long recorded message, designed to keep you on the line. It’s highly unlikely there’ll be a prize at the end of it. Don’t phone back to claim.

‘SMiShing’ (SMS phishing) is when a scammer texts asking for personal or financial information. The message may appear to be from a legitimate company, like a mobile phone provider, but legitimate companies never ask you to provide sensitive information by text. Don’t reply to these texts. Simply delete them.

Unless you’re using a secure webpage, don’t send or receive private information when using public WiFi. And be aware of who’s around you when using a mobile device to go online.

For more information and help and to report this and many other types of fraud, visit Action Fraud the UK’s national fraud and cybercrime reporting centre.

Metropolitan Police