Study: Apps ‘Hijacking’ 12 Million Smartphones

Some 12 million smartphones have mobile apps that secretly run a barrage of hidden advertisements in the background — roughly 700 per hour — that gobble up to 2GB of data per day and shorten battery life in its host device. Advertisers lose even more: an estimated $1 billion this year in bogus commissions paid to fraudsters for simulated clicks of those ads in “what they believe to be real consumers viewing their ads,” says David Sendroff of Forensiq, an …

Back to School? Parents, Be on Guard for Student ID Theft

With the kids returning to school, you’ve earned a sigh of relief. But don’t breathe too easy just yet. From elementary through high school, students are 51 times more likely than their parents to be victims of identity theft. College students are ideal (and common) targets — and when hit, they lose more money and take longer to discover their identity theft than any other age group. And with forms, dorms and other threats, a new school year is especially …

Airline Ticket Scams Take Flight on Facebook

Airline ticket scams are flying high once again. In recent weeks scammer-run campaigns on Facebook have spoofed several airlines – including JetBlue, Virgin, United and Delta – in promising free flights (and with Delta, merchandise and cash prizes, too). Don’t be fooled. The airline “names” change frequently; Southwest and Australian-based Qantas were imitated four months ago in similar schemes, and most of the current victims have been falsely implicated in past “free ticket” scams. In other words, by next week …

Ransomware: $18 Million and Counting … in Only 15 Months

Catherine Heslep was logging off Gmail when her computer was hijacked, another victim of ransomware. “Your files have been encrypted,” the message on the screen proclaimed. “You will not be able to access them without an encryption code.” “The cost for the code was 60 bitcoin, which translates to $700,” she says. Getting no response, the cybercriminals issued another ominous warning the next day: “If you don’t believe us, pick five files and we’ll decrypt them to prove it. You …

10 Ways to Prevent Identity Theft When Traveling

Planning summer vacation has its headaches. But enjoying it can cause the migraine of identity theft. Being from out of town means being out of your element – and makes you more vulnerable to scams. Here’s how to protect yourself. Stick with one credit card. Tourists are easier prey for sleazy store clerks and restaurant employees who capture credit card numbers with cellphone cameras or pen and paper and then make fraudulent purchases. If not paying with cash when traveling, …

‘Missed’ Jury Duty Verdict: Easy ID Theft

In the Phoenix area, the callers claim to be from the U.S. Marshals Service. In Huntsville, Ala., it’s a self-described “deputy marshal” with the sheriff’s office who has already scammed at least 53 people in recent weeks with this threat: You failed to report for jury duty and now have to face a judge … and jail time. Although it’s been around for 10 years, the “jury duty scam” remains one of the most successful fear-provoking impostor schemes, both for …