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Scam Alert #9 – Secret text messages & peeping on kids

You may want to check your phone bill for secret text messages that you didn’t send.

Plus, find out how some schools may have made it easy for peepers to spy on kids.

Here is our latest scam alert:

 

 

Secret Texts

If you start getting charges for text messages you never sent, you might have spyware on your phone.

Researchers with cybersecurity company Wandera found more than 50 apps with tricky malware in them, some in English, some in other languages like Chinese.

One example — a Chinese app called CuteActress that has you rub the screen to uncover a scantily clad lady.

But every time you touch the screen, your phone sends off a text message at premium rates, Wandera said.

The malware — called RedDrop — immediately erases the message, so you don’t know.

Until you get the bill.

 

                                             

A series of screen shots showing the CuteActress app. Image credit: Wandera

 

The company said the app also steals your photos and records what you’re doing through your phone’s microphone to use later for blackmail against you.

Some advice:

—Stick to the app stores, like Google Play and the App Store. Some bad apps will get through, but you will have a much lower chance of getting malicious apps on your phone.

—Change your phone settings so you don’t allow third-party downloads.

—Check to see if your apps are requesting permission to use things like your microphone or pictures.

 

Venmo Trouble

Maybe you’ve heard of Venmo, an app that lets you pay your friends directly on your phone, without cash.

The Federal Trade Commission said Venmo wasn’t doing everything above-board.

The FTC’s complaint says Venmo notified you when someone paid you and said the money was ready to go to your bank account, but that wasn’t always true.

So, some people counted on that Venmo money for rent or bills, according to the FTC, but found out too late it wasn’t really there.

The FTC also says Venmo made it all-too-easy for your transactions to show up on social media and made promises about your security that weren’t true.

 

A Venmo payment app promotional image. Image credit: Venmo

 

“Consumers suffered real harm when Venmo did not live up to the promises it made to users about the availability of their money,” Acting FTC Chairman Maureen Ohlhausen said in a press release. “The payment service also misled consumers about how to keep their transaction information private. This case sends a strong message that financial institutions like Venmo need to focus on privacy and security from day one.”

PayPal bought Venmo and said those problems happened before their purchase, according to Reuters.

PayPal has now settled the complaint with the FTC.

Venmo must be truthful about its services, privacy and security as part of a proposed settlement.

You can comment on the settlement through March 29, 2018.

Peeping on kids

Many schools have security cameras to protect kids.

Now someone is turning the tables, peeping in on those cameras.

A U.S. website is advertising, “Watch live surveillance cameras in the UK,” according to The Daily Mail.

 

An image from a school’s security camera with student faces pixelated by the Daily Mail. Image credit: Daily Mail

 

The site showed video feeds from security cameras in four British schools with thousands of students and said the schools did not have proper passwords protection on their cams.

The Daily Mail reported that the schools are fixing the problem.

It’s a good reminder to make sure you are using strong passwords — and not reusing them on multiple accounts or devices.

 

An image from a school’s security camera with student faces pixelated by the Daily Mail. Image credit: Daily Mail

 

Wallet Scams

You may be looking for a digital wallet to hold the crypto coins you want to buy.

You’ll see a lot of choices for a MyEtherWallet app for your phone.

But these are fakes, according to the cybersecurity company ESET.

MyEtherWallet doesn’t have an official app, researchers said, and neither does the Poloniex cryptocurrency exchange — despite the many apps you may see claiming to fill that role.

 

Imposter MyEtherWallet apps steal your secret keys so they can take your money, according to ESET. Image credit: ESET

 

These kinds of fakes are surging, ESET said.

Some fake wallet apps take your money and keep it for themselves.

A game called Bug Smasher secretly mines the coin Monero on your phone.

 

Bug Smasher secretly mines for cryptocurrency on your device, using up your energy & resources, ESET said. Image credit: ESET

 

And some apps say you can use them to do the mining yourself for the currency Ripple.

But Ripple is not ‘mineable’, ESET said.

Some advice from ESET:

—If you want to get into crypto coins, make sure the crypto currency service actually has an app first.

—Use two-factor authentication on your accounts.

—Read reviews of apps before installing (some reviews are likely fake, but real reviews will also give important clues).

 

See other alerts:

Scam Alert #11 — Fake peepers & video game scams

Scam Alert #10 — Stealing bones & hacking robots

Scam Alert #9 — Secret text messages & peeping on kids

Scam Alert #8 — Baby cams & fake news

Scam alert #7 — Top spam scams

Scam Alert #6 — Super Cute scam & ‘Be Mined’

Scam Alert #5 — Stealing your phone number & fake keypads

Scam Alert #4 — Porn ads for kids & disappearing banks

Scam Alert #3 — Coin hacks & fake Netflix e-mails

Scam Alert #2 — Spider virus & fake assassins

Scam Alert #1 — 800# number scammers & evil apps

 

 

Main image credit: Archer News

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