AdaptiveMobile, the world leader in mobile network security, is advising US consumers to be on the lookout for increasingly aggressive cyber scams starting on Black Friday and continuing through the holiday season. The company’s Threat Intelligence Unit anticipates an increase in banking text message phishing scams as well as cybercriminals masquerading as real brands on mobile. I have included more information on the scams below:

Fake bank text scams

These scams occur when a person receives a text message saying that his bank card has been deactivated and asks him to call a number to have the card re-instated. When the customer calls, the person’s financial data – which can include account number, social security number, and card PIN – are grabbed. These scams peak when banks are most likely to be closed — such as Thanksgiving Eve and Day, Christmas Eve and Day, and New Year’s Eve and day — and consumers were less likely to have access to online or in-person banking services.

What makes these scams successful is the level of detail that the cybercriminals use, such as recordings that appear to legitimize that the financial institution is involved.

AdaptiveMobile has tracked two types of attacks:

1. General, large-scale attacks that are purportedly from national / global banks and that reach large numbers of consumers in the United States

2. Regionally centered attacks that target specific, small areas and appear to come local banks and credit unions.

Here are examples of the spam messages delivered to US mobile subscribers in November 2016:

Actual text messages received by US smartphone users in November

Black Friday scams

AdaptiveMobile has also witnessed an increased number of text-message Black-Friday scams targeting US consumers. Some of the messages direct consumers to fake sites offering too-good-to-be-true deals. In others, a message offering a holiday deal contains a link that could place malware on the user’s phone.

The reason these scams are increasing is that cybercriminals have become more adept at impersonating brands; consumers should be suspicious of offers from brands suggesting deals that seem too good to be true.

In order to avoid becoming a victim of holiday scams during the 2016 holiday season, AdaptiveMobile advises the following:

  1. Be aware that these scams peak during times your financial institution or a brand is less likely to be available to speak to you: be on the lookout for scams to rise on Thanksgiving Eve and Day, the Sunday before Cyber Monday and Christmas Eve.
  2. Do not enter your banking details or passwords on any website unless you are certain it relates to the brand.
  3. Know that legitimate financial institutions will not have you enter account information and pin codes via phone or web to ensure access to your account