Forget your wallet. Thieves are after your smartphone!

That’s the warning from fraud and security experts. They say that cyberthieves are zeroing in on smartphones because they now contain a lot of private and valuable information. And theives don’t have to physically steal your smartphone to rip you off - they can rip you off remotely.

How? They usually text you a bogus link to click on but instead of being directed to a legit site, your phone downloads a virus. Lookout Security says 4 in 10 people will click an unsafe link on their smartphone this year.

Another way thieves gain entry is with bogus apps. You download what looks like a legitimate app – but is really a virus in disguise. And once they’ve gained access to your phone, thieves can start stealing your money. The most common way is accessing mobile payments. You may have apps like Amazon, Starbucks, or Google Wallet that are linked directly to an account and credit card. Or you may do mobile banking on your phone. All that info is what thieves are after. 

But the latest way thieves are attacking is by installing a “ransom-ware.”  It literally locks you out of your phone and holds it for ransom. The only thing you see is a text message saying your phone won’t be unlocked until you pay a ransom fee – which can be thousands of dollars.

One last concern security experts have? Now that we can control our HOMES with our phones – from unlocking doors to opening our garage - having our phones stolen or hacked is an even bigger risk. 

So, how can you protect your phone? There’s a lot of anti-virus software being developed for phones – just like we have for our computers. But right now, the best way to avoid hackers is to never click on a link or visit a website texted to you by a stranger.  And don’t download apps, unless you know they’re legit.