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Avoiding Android App Scams
Scammers to Fake Caller ID to Trick You
How to Spot Phone Scams: The Ultimate Guide
Offical Sounding Calls About An Email Hack
Surge in Tech Support Phone Scams targeting the Elderly
Phony Phone Number Scam targeting Vets


IRS Urges — Stay Alert to Scam Phone Call
     IRS Watchdog: Imposter Phone Scam Largest Ever

Understanding Mobile Apps
     There's a Mobile App for That (But It Might Be Fake)

Safety Tips to Protect Your Mobile Device

When Using Public WiFi Hotspots
      
Public WiFi Hotspots Never Private
 


Avoiding Android App Scams

The following is from TechRepublic, an online trade publication for IT (Information Technology) professionals, passed on by Ron Kalmin. The article was written by Brandon Vigliarolo and published August 19th, 2016. Although the article is about androids and downloading applications via Google Play Store, the tips may be useful to anyone with a cell phone.

Google has a notoriously lax app approval process. There are some positives to allowing easy access to the Play store, but Google's attitude has also left their app store full of dangerous, device-hijacking software.

Malicious Android apps usually try to pass themselves off as other legitimate apps, which can leave the average user unable to tell the difference between the two. Here are some tips to help you distinguish the good from the bad.

1.  Who's the developer?

Every app's page features the developer in plain view directly beneath the name of the app. You might not know offhand who the legitimate developer of an app is, but if the name sounds fishy, is spelled wrong or isn't capitalized properly, you need to investigate further.

To check into a developer, scroll all the way to the bottom of an app's page on the Play Store. Down at the bottom is a link to the developer's website. Give it a click to make sure it goes to a legitimate site.

A little above the website link, you'll see more apps the developer has published. Those other apps are a good indicator of who you're dealing with. Be sure it's not just a bunch of copies of other apps or other junk.

Popular apps are some of the most frequently scammed and copied. If you're planning to install one of those, keep an eye out for the Google Top Developer icon next to the app developer's name. It appears like a small blue diamond, and it lets you know you're dealing with the right people.

2.  Check permissions.

You can see what permissions an app will need right at the bottom of the screen near the link to the developer's website. All apps need at least some permissions in order to run, and while some need more than others, the permissions an app is asking for should match its function.

If you're installing a game, it might need to access the internet to pull down data, but there's no good reason for it to attach to your social media, or access your dialer or contacts. It also shouldn't be asking for control over network connections, or to be given access to install other apps.

When in doubt, trust an app that asks for the least amount of permissions possible. The more it wants the more it's going to worm its way into your phone.

3. What are other users saying?

Check the ratings on an app: if it only has a couple stars it probably isn't worth your time, so just pass it up. See the following TechRepublic article:

Why haven't we seen the smartphone security apocalypse in iPhone and Android yet?

Make sure you read the comments, too. Users will report on bad apps, so scan through what people are saying about it. That's not to say that malware developers don't spam the Play Store with fake reviews. Keep an eye out for five star review after five star review that describe nothing and read in similar ways.


Other Things You Can Do

Inspecting an app on the Play Store can generally distinguish the good from the bad, but there are other things you can do to keep your device safe.

  • Be sure that you disable app installations from unknown sources. Casual Android users probably won't ever have a reason to sideload an APK, so turning it off can protect you from apps outside the Play Store. To do that: open Settings, tap on Lock Screen And Security, and look for Unknown Sources. Toggle that off and you'll be all set.
     
  • Also be sure to install an Android antivirus app. They can detect bad apps and help you get rid of them, as well as protect you from malicious websites and other things that can harm you and your device.


The 3 Big Takeaways

  1. Investigate every app you want to install. Be sure the developer is legitimate, the comments are positive, and the app isn't asking for atypical permissions.
     
  2. Disable unknown app sources to prevent a website from secretly installing apps.
     
  3. Make sure you have an Android security app installed on your phone. They do work and can save you a lot of trouble over one simple mistake.


IRS Urges — Stay Alert for Scam Phone Calls

The IRS continues to warn consumers to guard against scam phone calls (emails, text messages, and social media, too) from thieves intent on stealing their money or identity. Criminals pose as IRS representatives to trick victims. The Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration have received reports of about 736,000 scam contacts since October 2013 and nearly 4,550 victims have collectively paid over $23 million as a result of the scam.

Here are some tips to help you avoid being a victim of these scams:

  • Scammers make unsolicited calls, claiming to be IRS officials, demanding the victim pay a bogus tax bill. They con the victim into sending cash, usually through a prepaid debit card or wire transfer. They may also leave “urgent” callback requests through phone “robo-calls,” or via phishing email.
  • Callers try to scare their victims with threats of arrest, deportation or revocation of their victim's drivers license if they don’t get the money.
     
  • Scams use caller ID spoofing, often altering their caller ID to make it look like the IRS or another agency is calling. The callers use IRS titles and fake badge numbers. They may use the victim’s name, address and other personal information to make the call sound official.

Cons try new tricks all the time and some schemes provide an actual IRS address where they tell the victim to mail a receipt for their payment, use emails containing a fake IRS document with a reply phone number or email address, often using official IRS letterhead in emails or regular mail that they send to their victims to make the ruse look official.

The IRS will not:

  • Call you to demand immediate payment without first sending you a bill in the mail.
  • Demand that you pay taxes and not allow you to question or appeal the amount you owe.
  • Require that you pay your taxes a certain way (e.g., require payment with a prepaid debit card).
  • Ask for your credit or debit card numbers over the phone.
  • Threaten to bring in police or other agencies to arrest you for not paying.

If you don’t owe taxes, or have no reason to think that you do:

  • Do not give out any information. Hang up immediately.
  • Report the call through the “IRS Impersonation Scam Reporting” web page. You can also call 800-366-4484.
  • Report it to the Federal Trade Commission using the “FTC Complaint Assistant” on FTC.gov. Please add "IRS Telephone Scam" in the notes.

If you know you owe, or think you may owe tax:

  • Call the IRS at 800-829-1040. IRS workers can help you.


Stay alert to scams that use the IRS as a lure. Tax scams can happen any time of year, not just at tax time. For more, visit “Tax Scams and Consumer Alerts” on IRS.gov. Every taxpayer has fundamental rights when dealing with the IRS. These are your Taxpayer Bill of Rights.

To read the entire article:  IRS Urges Public to Stay Alert for Scam Phone Calls

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