The FCC defines cell phone fraud as, “the unauthorized use, tampering or manipulation of a cellular phone or service.” It comes in two primary forms, subscriber fraud and phone cloning fraud.
Subscriber fraud occurs when a scammer signs up for a service with information obtained in a fraudulent way.
Cell phone cloning fraud occurs when a scammer essentially reprograms a cell phone to transmit the signal associated with another legitimate device.
While other types of fraud have certain consumer protections in place, cell phone fraud is lacking the infrastructure to resolve cases quickly, oftentimes causing them to drag on for years.
Experts say older Americans may be more of a target to cell phone fraud. One reason is because scammers can make the caller ID of their fraudulent calls appear as though they’re local.
The key to avoid becoming the next victim of a call phone fraud scheme is to stay diligent. Check financial records frequently, be wary when giving out personal information over the phone, and even talk to your cell phone provider about any safeguards they may have in place to prevent attempts at fraudulent communications.
While cell phone fraud is typically preventable, it’s a growing trend that’s likely to continue indefinitely.
“You have a new and quickly growing form of crime, the objectives of which go well beyond financial loss,” Edward McAndrew, cybercrime lawyer, told Consumer Reports. “In many ways we’re seeing the weaponization of digital technology - infrastructure, platforms, devices, and data. And this type of fraud is an illustration of that.”
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