If you key in a wrong number on your smartphone, you may not realize it -- until you discover you've been scammed by a crook on the other end of the line.
This week's Snippets issue throws the spotlight on this and three more phone-related scams including a couple that target older folks.
We also have an alert on a new scam based on Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg's recent announcement that he plans to give away much of his wealth.
Let's get started...
Phone Scams for Wrong Numbers, Jailbroken iPhones, Vacation Gifts and Prescriptions
In the old days of rotary telephone dials, we were usually sure-fingered enough to avoid calling the wrong number.
Now that we're all fingers-and-thumbs with our smartphones, we're more likely to key in a wrong number when we quickly stab at numbers on those flat screens.
Crooks know that too.
So, just as they set up websites with names similar to genuine ones so they could trick people who miskeyed an address, they're now playing a similar game with phones.
Scammers have been buying up numbers that are similar, maybe just a digit different, to the genuine phone numbers of businesses, especially customer service operations.
This includes toll-free numbers of the sort you often see on credit or retail card accounts.
These bogus lines are usually linked to a recorded message mimicking the name of the company you thought you had dialed.
And, of course, what the scammers are after are your account details.
The recording tells callers they must key in their account number together with any relevant PIN or additional card security code.
Then they put you on hold while you wait for your turn in the mythical line to speak to someone in customer service.
But you never get through. And while you've been waiting, the crooks have either drained your bank account or maxed out your credit card.
Sometimes you don't even need to misdial to connect with the crooks.
You may get what you think is the correct number by doing a Google search.
For example, you key in the name of a card company or retailer and "customer service" and you get a website address or a link with a bogus number.
Action: Avoid these risks by getting the correct number off the back of your credit or store card. Then key in that number slowly, watching the digits as they show up on the screen of your phone.
If you must search online, make sure you're on the genuine company's website.
Staying on the subject of phones, we have a warning for those people who have been unwise enough to "jailbreak" their iPhones.
Jailbreaking involves reprogramming your phone so it can access and install software from other sites instead of just Apple's App Store.
Our warning is already too late for an estimated 250,000 victims who have already inadvertently installed a piece of malware known as KeyRaider.
The software, which steals and uses victims' Apple ID and account details, originated in China but is now sweeping across the U.S. and Canada.
It usually gets onto devices via Chinese-produced software available on a well known site used by jailbroken iPhone owners.
Action: First, don't jailbreak your iPhone if you don't want to risk virus infections.
Second, if you're already jailbroken, you can find out if your phone has been infected.
You'll also find details of how to remove and protect yourself against the infection.
Phony Gift Horse
A couple more phone-based alerts before we go.
They say you should "never look a gift horse in the mouth," which is all about why you shouldn't turn down a good deal.
But, as regular readers know, sometimes what look like great deals are nothing more than a cover for a scam.
And that's exactly what's happening with two telesales con tricks.
In the first, victims receive a phone call offering vacations and other gifts at a discount price.
The sales talk focuses on how you can buy a fantastic gift for someone else that impresses them without costing you a fortune.
As often happens these days, older folk are the key targets for this scam.
They often want to treat children or grandchildren, or maybe offer something special as a wedding gift.
But of course, there's nothing more than a scammer at the end of this line.
Seniors are also currently being targeted by a variation of the prescription discount scam, in which victims are tricked into paying for a card that supposedly will cut their Rx costs.
Of course, some of these discount services do offer genuine savings but many of them are just phony.
In the latest version, telesales callers offer victims their first three prescriptions free if they sign up (and pay for) a supposed mail order service.
This is actually a simple phishing trick. The crooks just want victims' credit card numbers.
They're calling from China but they spoof the number of a medical services company in Virginia.
Action: As always, we advise against making purchases, especially spur of the moment ones, via a telesales offer.
Sadly, these days, you have no way of knowing who really is on the other end of the line.
But you can be sure that the better the deal they offer, the more likely it is to be a scam.
Seek advice from friends and family before ever pursuing these offers.
Alert of the Week
Whatever you think of Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg's recently disclosed intention of giving away most of his $45 billion fortune, we can tell you he hasn't set aside a pot of his money just for you.
So don't be taken in by a Facebook posting or message that Mr Zuckerberg is giving $4.5 million to 1,000 "lucky" recipients.
At best, this post is a prank. At worst, it's part of a "farming" operation to gather Facebook likes for some other kind of dubious activity. So don't "like" or share it.
That's all for today -- we'll see you next week.