‘Bluetooth’ safety tips that may keep hackers away

Cell phone users are increasingly turning to Bluetooth technology to talk hands-free on their phones. According to the Governors Highway Safety Association, 10 states have passed laws which prohibit all drivers from using handheld cell phones while driving. As hands-free devices gain popularity, scammers are finding ways to exploit it.

Scammers use specialized software to intercept your Bluetooth signal and hack into your device. It’s called “bluebugging.” Doing this gives them access to your text messages, contacts, photos and call history.

Scammers tend to hang out in busy areas in order to hack into phones. They sometimes use hacked phones to make long distance calls. However, the newest scheme has scammers using the hacked number to set up pay-per-minute numbers to rack up charges.

Better Business Bureau offers tips to ensure your personal data stays safe:

  • Passwords. Always 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. Device manufactures will release updates to address threats and correct weaknesses.

Idaho has laws on texting while driving and bans the use of smartphones and other hand-held devices to review, prepare or send written communications while operating a motor vehicle. Violators can expect to pay $85 if caught. The ban is in addition to current misdemeanor penalties for inattentive driving, but until now had no specific law banning texting while driving.

— BBB Central Texas

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