Be aware, Apple isn’t asking people over text messages to test out the forthcoming iPhone 12 for free. If you’ve received one of these illegitimate text messages, know this: It’s a scam, and providing information to this fake “Apple” chatbot could give cyber crooks the access they need to drain your bank account.
Security company Sophos is warning of the scam, which is known as “smishing” and occurs when cybercriminals use text messaging (i.e., SMS) to redirect you to scam sites and trick you into giving away personal or bank account information.
Leveraging excitement about the forthcoming release of the iPhone 12 (which tech insiders are expecting to be released in mid-October), this particular scam sends a text message that says something like, “Congratulations, you received an opportunity to be in the testing group for our new iPhone 12!” and a follow-up message that says, “As part of the Apple 2020 Testing Program.” Then, it directs the recipient to click a link for more information.
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But, if you click on the link, you’ll be directed to scam sites with claims that there is a low-cost courier delivery charge for the otherwise free phone. The danger comes when you enter your credit or debit card information, complete with the security pin and expiration date, on one of these fraudulent “special offers” websites.
Sophos points out that imposters like to use text messages for these types of scams. If they don’t know the English language well, it’s easy for them to avoid grammatical and stylistic blunders when they’re limited to 160 characters per message. Those mistakes tend to be much more obvious in a longer-format e-mail. Also, your phone’s operating system will recognize when the text in a SMS looks like a URL and automatically make it clickable (and more legitimate-looking).
A couple of years ago, the Federal Communications Commission put out a warning about smishing scams. Oftentimes, the text messages may look like they’re coming from a bank. When cybercriminals get your personal information, they often sell it or use it on other scams. They may also entice you into downloading malware onto your device.
The FCC says you should never click links from numbers you don’t recognize. Don’t respond, even if the text message requests that you “text STOP” to end messages. Delete suspicious text messages. Also, consider installing anti-malware software onto your device for added security.
Be careful. Cybercriminals are getting extra crafty!