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Fraudulent Charges May Be Appearing On Your Cell Phone Bill

Fraudulent Charges May Be Appearing On Your Cell Phone Bill - The Beacon


By: Amanda

Fraudulent Charges May Be Appearing On Your Cell Phone Bill

Do you read your cell phone bill every month? If not, you might not know you maybe billed for text messages you didn’t even know you sent.  This new scheme is called “toll fraud” and it is most prevalently affecting the Android marketplace.

According to a New York Times article, this type of malware is installed in some applications in the Android marketplace.  Once the malicious app is downloaded to a phone, “the app will send out invisible text messages to a service that uses a middleman who has a relationship with the malware creator. A confirmation message is sent back to the malware by text message that is hidden from the phone user which confirms the charge.  The charge goes to the user’s bill, and the carrier takes a cut and gives the rest to the service, thus the malware creator.”  The article also states that Lookout, an anti-virus software that can be installed on your phone, estimates over 18 million Android users may encounter malware by the end of 2013, and approximately 72% of the malware discovered in 2012 by Lookout was toll fraud.  So what can you do about it?

-Read your cell phone bill every month.  If you have the bill set up to automatically debit your checking account, review the bill online before the payment is taken & dispute any unauthorized charges with your cell phone company.

-Before you download an app, read the reviews & the permissions.  If someone has had a problem with the app, it might be noted in the reviews. Also, know and understand what you are granting the application to do & only download from a trusted source.

-Protect your cell phone as you would a computer. Download anti-virus/anti-malware software. This type of software will better protect your device from these types of issues.

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Amanda is the Director of Bureau Affairs and is a regular contributor to the consumer education blog. She is one of our go-to colleagues for answering complex consumer inquires. Amanda also manages our charity reporting program.