Malware taking over phone?

I was sitting watching the news Sunday 21st when my (flip) mobile phone, which was and always is, turned OFF, made a very strange noise . Hauled it out of my waist bag and opened it to find a blackish screen with a large icon similar to the battery- with- rising- coloured- ring- icon shown when it is charging… and some seemingly un related numbers in a line below it. Stared at it for a moment then said “Hello?”. An Asian voice answered. After finally establishing, via her less than adequate English, that she was calling from my bank(!), I asked her repeatedly how she had managed to call and connect… with my mobile phone which was turned off, No relevant answer, just jumbled questions re ‘security’ and my use of my credit card.(I had used Paywave because the bank is refusing to send my new pin no. by mail.).
At the end of this, at times heated conversation, the screen did not return to its usual blue but remained black.

I am very concerned about this but neither the Aus. Com and Media Authority or the police seem the slightest bit interested in it. Is this not a security breech? I guess if some very well publicized recent hackings can be glossed over, who could possibly care about such trivia as my unexplainable phone call.


I’m not any sort of expert in this but sounds like your phone might be hacked or have malware on it?

Hi @marloo2,

Have you installed any new apps or made other changes recently? I’m wondering if this is a case of malware being installed onto your phone.

Thank you.
My phone is not a smart phone and I have not ever connected it to the internet so am not sure how it could have been hacked or had malware installed onto it. My computer however, has been hacked. Hope they were bored out of their tiny brains!

No mobile phone is truly off unless you pull the battery out. They just go into a very low power state when turned off. That is why NSA etc can turn on microphones, cameras and such without the user knowing. See here for a 2014 article about it:

With the current release of other hacks that malicious persons can leverage eg the current Wanacry ransomware for computers it is becoming more difficult to be sure you are safe. Best practice for most users is to ensure they put some sort of decent AV protection on their phones, tablets and PCs, don’t download from unknown or untrustworthy sites, don’t open unexpected attachments or emails, don’t follow unknown links in documents, and make sure all updates are installed. Unfortunately your flip mobile probably doesn’t support most of these actions but certainly pulling the battery out will make sure you aren’t interrupted again and you could, after backing up your phone data such as contacts, do a factory reset to clear most problems you may have picked up.


This answer would have to be one of the most comprehensive answers I have ever seen. Sadly if you follow “grahroll’s” excellent advice and your phone doesn’t return to normal you will have to dump the phone AND the number. I use a Blackberry (V10 O/S) as it is a very difficult phone to hack. Noticed I said difficult not “cannot be hacked”.
I have bandaids over my video cameras on my laptop and tablet, I put my phone in a bag at night and my PC video camera is disconnected after use. I do NOT wear a tin foil hat! And the advice about a decent AV protection really means PAYING for a program, not the free ones.

Some of the new routers (not the cheap $100 jobs) also incorporate security and are updated daily. This should be your 1st line of defense. Can you see the trend? MOst of my new clients have junk routers, free security software that has been compromised 12 months ago, no daily security scan, no daily update and a backup process that is connected full time to their PC and other devices or worse; on the same hard drive.

Thank you for your very helpful rely. Sorry to take so long to answer but there was no notification sent to me.

I would not have thought a well known (o/s) bank would have been a hive of hackers but then who knows.
I do not open unexpected emails etc. My landline is monitored by an answering m/c 24/7 which stops a lot of these scammers so I guess the mobile is their only hope. It has begun to turn itself on recently and run the battery down so maybe it is time for a change. I am amazed that anyone would bother to hack it as it is purely for emergency calls, not banking or anything else.

I think it is unlikely it is hacked but it shouldn’t be trusted. Save the phone contacts you want kept then factory reset the phone. See if you have the same issues after that. If you do get the same, it is either malfunctioning and needs replacing for that reason or it is hacked and should be replaced.

If it was your bank that called you, you should be able to verify that with them but just because someone says they are your bank does not mean that it is and they can be very convincing if they have enough information about you.

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Hi Grahroll. Glad to see you have one of my ‘friends’ as your photo. My creatures are impressed!
The call from the bank was genuine as they were calling about my use of Paywave. They refuse to send a new pin number via snail mail even though my computer has been hacked… Quite frankly, I could not think of anything more boring to hack but small things amuse small minds… I have to use Paywave most of the time now, so expect more rude calls.
Before I answered any questions from the bank caller, I demanded to know just how she had managed to get through whilst the phone was turned off but in the usual way, she simply diverted the conversation to what she wanted to know, in her own screeching way. I was not impressed!
I think you are correct about resetting the phone, or changing it,… and changing banks.

What sort of phone is it? …maker and model.

Some phone only go in to a sleep/phone mode of the power button is pressed…and the same phones may need the off button pressed for a number of seconds to actually fully shutdown the phone. It is easy to sleep the phone accidentally instead of full shutdown without realising it…I used to do this ocassionallly with an older model Nokia.

In sleep mode, the phone will wake to take a call.

Alternatively it could be a fault with the phone…whereby you shutdown but it automatically restarts sometime later without any buttons being pushed.

It would be good to know sort of phone to work out if this is what is happening and explore further to see if any problems have been reported elsewhere.

It is an older Telstra flip phone and it has only just begun occasionally turning itself on.
When the call came through, the phone was definitely off. I always check that it has really turned off because I had thought in the past that I might have not pressed the button long enough when I discovered next time I opened it that it was still. on. I have not used a sleep mode because the phone is for emergencies only and I would only use it a couple of times a year, if that. If anyone is waiting for any interesting calls, they will have a very long wait!

Next time I use my Paywave a couple of times for a more expensive item, I will wait and see if the bank calls me again in the same way. This time, their ears will be ringing even longer and they will lose a customer.

There was a very strange icon showing as I answered the call, similar to the charging icon but larger with green colouring on it. When the call ended, the screen went black as it does when the phone is off, not the usual blue.

The local council has been known to listen in to landline calls but I do not think they would have the brains or the nerve
tackle mobile phones.

It is possible that your phone has a faulty on/off button or firmware which is causing it to automatically turn itself on…or impact on its normal operation.

It may be worth doing a factory reset as suggested by @grahroll as this may rectify any firmware faults…or consider a new phone if it is the on/off switch and you are concerned that it is not shutting down properly.

I would also not be blaming the bank as they wouldn’t be able to start your phone remotely so they can contact you when you use paywave.

If you have information/evidence that a local council is listening into calls when they shouldn’t be, this is potentially is something you should report to the relevant authorities.