For many of us, cell phones are an important part of our lives. It’s not just a communication device but it also enables us to store photos, organize our schedule, and connect with friends and family. Unfortunately scammers are also using cell phones as a tool. In this blog post, we would like to share examples of these types of scams.

Before we begin, we would like to credit the Competition Bureau and their Little Black Book of Scams for some of the information in this blog post.

Here are some of the common scams that you may encounter on your cell phone:

Missed call scams

Scammers will call your phone and hang up so quickly that you can’t answer the call in time. Your phone registers a missed call and you probably won’t recognize the number. You may be tempted to call the number to find out who called you. If it is a scam, you may have to pay premium rates for the call without knowing.

Text message scams

These scams work through a Short Message Service (SMS). Scammers send you a text message from a number you may not recognize, but it sounds like it is from a friend—for instance, “Hi, it’s John. I’m back! When are you free to catch up?” If you reply out of curiosity, you may be charged at premium rate for SMS messages (sometimes as much as $4 for each message sent and/or received).

Ransom scams

You may know of malware that freezes your computer – this scam works the same way but on your cell phone. For instance, you may be browsing on the Internet on your smartphone and suddenly your screen freezes. It may say things like “your phone is locked due to the violation of the federal laws” and ask for your prepaid credit card number and PIN to unfreeze your phone. If you hand over the information, scammers will drain the money from your pre-paid card and disappear.

So how do you protect yourself from all of these potential scams? Remember to never reply to texts or calls from numbers that you do not recognize. Also before taking any actions, ask yourself “could this be a scam? What is my gut telling me?” and proceed with caution. If you are still unsure, ask around. Your friends and family may have experienced something similar.

Consumer Protection BC does not have authority over the telecommunications industry or scams. If you think you have been affected by a cell phone scam or any other scams and frauds, please report it to the Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre here.

We hope this information was helpful!


Own a cellphone? You need to know about ‘smishing’
OMG! Watch out for texting scams