How do I know if my cell phone has been hacked?

Can your phone not keep a charge? Is it inundated with pop-up ads? These are just some of the signs your phone could be compromised.

CHARLOTTE, NC — Cell phones are no longer just portable telephones; They’re handheld computers that most people use to run just about every aspect of their personal lives. But that makes them targets for cybercriminals.

In fact, there’s a chance a person’s phone could be compromised right now, and they wouldn’t know it.

What most people would write off as technical glitches could be a signal of something more sinister. Senior manager of security solutions at Lookout Hank Schless said there are five key signs that a person’s phone may have been hacked.

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Overheating

If a phone is hot to the touch, it’s possible cybercriminals are transferring data from a person’s device to a remote server. Transferring data causes a phone to work nonstop, heating it up in the process.

Random apps appear out of nowhere

If hackers have control of a phone, they can install apps remotely to monitor and track activity. Lookout advises people should check and remove every suspicious or unfamiliar app.

Poor battery performance

Unwanted apps can quickly drain your phone’s battery.

Performance problems

Malware can slow down your phone’s processor causing dropped calls, undelivered texts, screen freezing and crashing.

Consistent pop-ups

Constant pop-up ads, home screen updates and bookmarks to unknown websites are signs of malicious adware.

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For those who think their phone has been hacked, there are numerous apps designed to help detect the culprit. Experts advise people to check their bank and credit card statements for signs of fraudulent activity so you can report the breach right away.

Tip to avoid becoming a victim of a scam

  • Emotional appealAny pitch that ratchets up your emotion will inhibit your rational judgment.
  • Sense of emergencyYou MUST act now, or else.
  • Request for unorthodox paymentGift cards, prepaid credit cards, wire transfers, etc.
  • Explanations that don’t ring trueIf your new “landlord” can’t show you the inside of the house, that could be because they don’t own it.
  • You won, now pay upIt’s not a prize if you have to pay for it. Taxes fees, shipping whatever.
  • Too good to be trueThat’s because it’s not true. Sorry, your long-lost relative didn’t die, leaving you millions. That car you bought online for a third of its Kelly Blue Book value doesn’t really exist. The son of a billionaire diamond broker didn’t “swipe right” on you and fall instantly in love. That work-at-home job paying you hundreds of dollars an hour for stuffing envelopes isn’t real.

Contact Carolyn Bruck at cbruck@wcnc.com and follow her on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

WCNC Charlotte is always asking “where’s the money?” If you need help, reach out to WCNC Charlotte by emailing money@wcnc.com.

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