There’s a new, surprisingly elaborate phishing scam targeting iPhone users.  The scam starts with an email informing users that their phones have been locked due to “illegal activity” and instructing them to call “Apple Care” to get the problem fixed.

Of course, there is no such company as Apple Care, but it’s an official enough sounding name that it’s luring a surprising percentage of victims into calling.  In fact, opening the email will open a call dialog box, making connecting to “help” a very simple, and incredibly tempting option.

Naturally, the person on the other end of the phone isn’t tech support, but a hacker who’s looking to obtain as much information about the caller as possible.  It’s a well thought out, well-engineered scam and it’s taking a lot of people in.

Given that smartphones have officially overtaken PCs as the primary means of surfing the web, it should come as no great surprise that phishing attacks targeting smartphone users are on the rise. Since most people keep their whole lives on their phones these days, it’s no wonder that so many people are quick to try and get help at the first sign of trouble with their cherished device.

Hackers are all too aware of that fact and are increasingly using it to prey on unsuspecting victims. Unfortunately, people tend to be more distracted when they’re on their phones versus when they’re using a PC, which explains why phishing attacks directed at smartphone users tend to succeed more often than they do against PC users.

Don’t fall for it.

Train your brain to be more mindful of any email you get that hints at a problem with any account or device you control.  The best thing you can do if you get an email like that would be to close it and test the account or device yourself to verify that it’s locked.  If it isn’t, delete the email and assume it was a scam.  If it is locked, reach out to the company directly, rather than clicking links embedded in an email, or calling numbers obtained from an email.

That’s still not a fool proof solution, but it will help to minimize your risks.