Malicious ‘Apple Care’ phishing scam targets iCloud users

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iCloud iPhone
Have you had this email yet?
Photo: Jim Merithew/Cult of Mac

The latest phishing scam targets iCloud users, trying to scare them into installing malicious software on their iOS devices.

Some users have received emails recently that push them to fake Apple Support websites. Once there, the sites prompt them to call “Apple Care” because their devices are supposedly “locked for illegal activity.” Here’s how to avoid the scam.

Tech support scams have long targeted Mac and PC users. But as more and more of us switch to mobile devices for browsing the web, scammers find new ways to take advantage of us. This apparent Apple Care scam is the latest out of India.

Beware requests to call ‘Apple Care’

It starts with a phishing email delivered to an iCloud account, reports Ars Technica. The email warns recipients that the device in use has been “locked for illegal activity.” The targeted iCloud user then gets a prompt to call “Apple Care” immediately to resolve the problem.

Of course, the call never reaches a real Apple employee.

iCloud phishing scam
Don’t click links in dodgy emails.
Photo: Ars Technica

The person who does answer, “Lance from Apple Care” in Ars’ case, will convince you that the only way to unlock your iOS device is to install malicious device-management services that allow scammers to push compromised apps to your iPhone and iPad.

It’s not exactly clear what those apps will do once installed. “Lance” reportedly got suspicious and hung up when Ars tried to get through the support call.

The fake Apple Care scam is still active

The websites used for this scam are still active, but Safari and Chrome now identify them as deceptive. That means you should see a warning if you ever get redirected to any of them. However, you always should double-check that emails are genuine before clicking any links.

If you get an email that looks like it has come from AppleCare, visit Apple.com, find the number for Apple Support, and call yourself. Don’t just assume the number in the email is genuine. It’s also worth remembering that Apple would never lock your device for “illegal activity.”