BBB alerts consumers to protect Bluetooth-enabled devices

By Steve Abel – President of the Abilene BBB | September 1, 2016

Better Business Bureau is alerting local residents to scammers using special software to hack into Bluetooth-enabled devices including smart phones, tablets, laptops and other devises.{{more}}Many drivers are turning to Bluetooth technology to safely talk hands-free as they drive, work or perform other activities, but scammers found ways to exploit this technology for their own underhanded gains.Scammers have a new technique called “bluebugging,” also called “bluejacking,” to gain access to sensitive information stored in cell phones through Bluetooth functions. The information is then used to gain access to banking accounts or commit other types of identity theft.With special software, the scammer intercepts the Bluetooth signal to hack into the cell phone and gain access to contacts as well as private information, including passwords, photos, text messages and the phone’s call history. Scammers have the most success bluebugging while in busy areas such as malls and one trend is to set up pay-per-minute numbers on the hacked phone to rack up large phone charges as well as steal information on the phone.As technology becomes more advanced, scammers evolve to find new ways to access personal information through technology. It is important to understand how scammers access this information to protect against it.The harsh reality is that every single dollar lost to a scammer equals less money a family has to spend for food, utilities, home repairs and other vital consumer purchases that fuel our local economy. Money stolen by scammers creates a ripple effect in overall consumer purchasing that trickles down to legitimate, honest businesses. The BBB offers tips to protect against bluebugging:• Always use a pin on your cell phone. Use a minimum of eight characters in your PIN. The longer your code, the more difficult it is to crack.• Sign-off. Switch your Bluetooth into “not discoverable” mode when you aren’t using it. If you make a call from your car, be sure to switch it off when you get out. • Be wary of unknown requests. Don’t accept pairing requests from unknown parties. If you happen to pair your phone with a hacker’s computer, then all your data is at risk. • Stay updated. Make sure you download and install regular security updates. Keeping your phone or smart devise updated is an important way to protect it.BBB is a private non-profit organization. BBB strives for a trustworthy marketplace by maintaining standards for truthful advertising, investigating and exposing fraud against consumers and businesses. Please contact Better Business Bureau at 691-1533 or 24 hours a day for information on businesses throughout North America.