While many security threats target Windows and Android, Apple users shouldn't let their guard down. Phishing scams, which convince you to hand over passwords and other personal data, can affect anyone — and scams targeting your Apple ID have been making the rounds. In these scams, you're contacted by someone claiming to be from Apple Support telling you that your Apple ID has been hacked. They may contact you by phone, email or text message, and they can seem very legitimate. These scammers often stress serious consequences if you don't address the hack right now, counting on your fear to make you act fast. But if you hastily click a link or hand over your password, a scammer could have just taken control of your account.
The biggest clue that these messages don't come from Apple itself is that they'll ask for your username, password, credit card number, social security number or other personal information — things Apple itself would never request. When you give it out, these thieves can gain easy access to any information you keep on Apple's servers, like emails or iTunes purchases. Further, knowing your password and identifying information can make it easy to guess logins on other accounts or even steal your identity.
The best way to avoid being scammed is to be aware of how these scammers con people out of their personal information, so you know when you're being played. Here are some warning signs:
- Requests for personal information. As we mentioned above, this is the biggest clue something is a scam. Apple will never ask you for your password or credit card number.
- Phone calls, emails or text messages out of the blue. While Apple can send emails and alerts when you make purchases or log in from a new computer, Support agents won't contact you unless you've contacted them first. You should always be suspicious of unexpected messages claiming to be from Apple.
- A message that just seems odd. It may come from an address or phone number not associated with Apple, be formatted strangely, or include typos and misspellings. If anything seems wrong, it probably is.
- A message that stresses dangerous consequences if you don't do something immediately, like click a link or give someone your password.
If you receive a suspicious message, never give out personal information or click links and contact Apple directly to verify whether the message is legitimate. And if you think your Apple ID may already be compromised, change your password immediately and set up two-factor authentication to secure it further
[Image credit: iPhone with keyboard and mouse via BigStockPhoto.com]