Phone Porting & SIM Scams a Growing Threat
Phone porting scams are have become a real menace to anyone with a mobile phone. That’s pretty much everybody.
What is phone porting and how do you protect yourself is the next question you should be asking.
Also known as the ‘port-out scam’ the problem has gotten so bad that T-Mobile, one of the nations biggest service providers, has issued a warning.
Phone porting is when you switch from one carrier to another while keeping you old phone number.
And Its So Easy
Here is the frightening part. A scammer simply walks into a phone store, or calls them, and pretends to be you. Unless you have the proper security measures in place the scammer can easily steal your phone number and enroll with a new carrier. You are effectively shut off from your phone service and he takes control of your number. Yes, the whole process is that easy.
But it gets worse. Another type of porting scam is called a SIM swap scam or SIM hijacking. It works very much the same way. But instead of porting your number to a new carrier, the scammer, again pretending to be you, requests a new SIM card for your account. Once they get the SIM, they control your number and more.
Now the scammer has your hijacked your number and shut off your cell service. Now think about this; the scammer controls your phone and gets access to all your calls and text messages. If you are like everyone else with a smartphone this is major blow to your life. Are you sick yet?
Remember two factor authentication you were told to use to protect your online accounts? Guess what? If you use your phone number to receive text messages with security codes when you log into your bank account those message are now going to the scammer. That person now has access to your email, bank account, credit cards, and other super sensitive info.
How do I protect myself you ask?
Its really pretty easy. You make a quick phone call to customer service today, or tweak to your account online.
Add a security PIN to your account. The process maybe different for every carrier but a PIN will be required to make changes to your account. That includes porting your number to a new carrier or requesting a new SIM card. Your account is now secure against both port-out and SIM swap scams. Good stuff.
Most carriers should let you do this online under some sort of account security setting. If you can’t find this info online, just give them a quick call and let them know you want to add PIN security to your account. This PIN will be different from your password used when you log into your account. This PIN is specifically used when you walk into a store or call customer service to make changes.
Remember, just like passwords, choose something that isn’t easy to guess. Don’t make silly mistakes like using your birthday or dog’s name. Scammers are good at guessing that kind of stuff. Once it’s in place, though, you should be better secured against this type of scam happening to you.
Now you know.