Scammers are using malware to extort money from unsuspecting smartphone users. This virus, known as "ransomware," freezes up your phone until you pay to unlock it. How the Scam Works:You are surfing the web on your smartphone, when it suddenly freezes. A screen appears, saying that you phone "is locked due to the violation of the federal laws." The screen looks very official. It might use the name and insignia of a law enforcement agency. It may even site the article numbers of laws that you were allegedly breaking. You're scared, and you need your phone. According to the screen, you need to pay a fine in order to unlock your device. To do this, just put several hundred dollars on a prepaid debit card and enter the PIN. Of course, this "fine" isn't really going to law enforcement Once you hand over the information, scammers will drain the money from your pre-paid card and disappear. Another variation on this scam involves a pop-up saying something like “Warning IOS – Crash Report. Due to a third party application your phone iOS crashed.” The pop-up instructs you to call a “customer support” number immediately to fix this issue and if you call, “tech support” staff will offer to fix your phone… for a fee. Victims report that scammers charge about $60. Behind this scam is a type of malware typically known as "ransomware." Just like a computer virus, it can invade your smartphone if you click on a bad link or download an infected file. This scam has been infecting PCs for a long time. But as consumers rely more on smartphones to access the web, scammers are increasingly targeting mobile devices. Tips to Protect Your Mobile Phone: Treat your phone as you would a computer. Protect your phone with a passcode, use virus protection software and be very careful what you download. Watch out for scams disguised as apps: Be sure to download apps through the official app store, stay clear of discontinued apps and make sure to read the user reviews.Keep security software current: Using the latest mobile security software, web browser and operating system are the best defenses against malware and other online threats. Be savvy about public Wi-Fi hotspots: Be careful how you use your phone when connected to public Wi-Fi. Now's not the time to do your online banking. Also, adjust the security settings on your device to limit who can access your phone.For More InformationCheck out this coverage of the scam featuring an interview with BBB Serving the Snake River Region in Boise, Idaho. To find out more about other scams, check out BBB Scam Stopper (bbb.org/scam).