SIM cards are necessary to operate mobile phones and connects the user to a network of their choosing. SIM, which stands for subscriber identity module, not only allows access to the network, but it also contains your phone number. A new type of social engineering, SIM swapping, has become a problem over recent years.

SIM Swapping Defined

SIM swapping occurs when a criminal contacts the phone company and convinces the employee that they are the owner of the phone and need a transfer to a new device due to damage or it being lost.

The scammer will ask the cell phone provider to activate a new SIM card connected to your phone number on a new phone that they now own. If the scammer is successful, they will receive all of your texts, phone calls, and data.

In some circumstances, the scam occurs on the inside, where employees of the phone company help make the switch, making them part of the scam.

What Happens When You Are SIM Swapped?

Once the scammer gains control of your phone number, they can receive your text messages. With access to your texts, this can allow criminals to log into your other accounts and receive verification codes needed to log in. This occurs if text messages are used as a form of multi-factor authentication.

With this information, scammers could log into bank accounts to steal money, or take over social media and email accounts. There is also a chance they could lock you out of an account completely by changing the password.

Protecting Yourself from SIM Swapping

  1. Do not reply to text messages or phone calls that request personal information.
    These texts or calls could be phishing attempts by scammers looking to get your cellular, bank, or credit card account information. Instead, contact the company directly through a phone number or website you know is legitimate if you receive a suspicious text message or phone call.
  2. Limit the amount of personal information you post on social media platforms.
    Avoid posting your full name, address, or phone number. Posting this information can make it easier for scammers to steal your identity.
  3. Set up a PIN or passcode on your cellular account.
    Creating a PIN or passcode can act as an added layer of protection, which is another piece of information a scammer would need to obtain prior to stealing your identity. PINs or passcodes can also help protect an account from any unauthorized changes.Since setting up a PIN/passcode differs depending on the cell phone company, be sure to contact your provider to see what steps to take to do so.
  4. Use an authentication application or security key.

What To Do If You Become A Victim of SIM Swapping

If you’re the target of a SIM swap scam:

  • Contact your cell phone provider immediately to take back control of your phone number. Once you regain access, change your account passwords to prevent any other issues.
  • Check bank, credit card and other accounts for unauthorized changes and charges, and report them to your company.

For more information on SIM Swapping and other ways to protect your information, contact ThrottleNet today!