How to Protect Yourself from SIM Swap Scams
Published on August 7, 2023
In today’s digital age, ensuring the security of your financial information is critical. Unfortunately, scammers are constantly evolving their tactics to exploit vulnerabilities. One such method gaining prominence is the SIM swap scam. Understanding this fraudulent activity and taking precautions can help you safeguard your hard-earned money.
What is a SIM Swap Scam?
SIM swapping is when criminals attempt to take control of your mobile phone number by deceptively transferring it to a new SIM card under their control. With access to your phone number, they can attempt to bypass security measures and gain unauthorized access to your sensitive information, including your bank accounts.
How Does this Scam Work?
One way scammers gain access is by calling your mobile phone service provider and claiming your phone is lost or damaged. They then ask the provider to activate a new SIM card connected to your phone number, but on a new one that they own. If they can convince the provider to activate the new SIM card, the scammer gains control and intercepts all your text messages, calls, and data. With this power, scammers can open new accounts, make purchases, and access your accounts that use text messages for authentication, receiving any verification codes they may need to log in.
Armed with your login credentials, they can access your bank accounts, take over your email or social media accounts, and change the passwords to lock you out. Vigilance and protective measures are crucial to prevent falling victim to this scheme.
How to Avoid SIM Swap Scams
The following four tips can help you protect your mobile phone number and your money from SIM swap scams:
- Add a PIN or password for your mobile account. This simple security option will make it more difficult for someone to take control of your account without your knowledge.
- Consider using a non-SMS (text message) multi-factor authentication (MFA) method. Add extra protection when texting with MFA. After entering your username and password, you’ll be prompted to enter an additional piece of information to verify your identity. Explore what you can do by opening Settings on iPhone or the Identity Platform on your Android.
- Limit what you share online. Scammers often use personal information shared on public sites to phish for account credentials. If possible, avoid posting your full name, address, or phone number and make sure your social media profiles are set to private.
- Be aware of phishing attempts. Scammers looking to get personal information to access your mobile, bank, credit or other accounts may attempt to contact you by phone, email, or text. If you get a request for your account or personal information, do not reply to or click any links. Remember, your bank and mobile service provider will never ask for sensitive information like your account number or PIN via email, text message, or phone call.
Following these tips can help prevent SIM swap scams and guard your phone number and accounts against fraudulent behavior. If you suspect you’ve been the victim of a SIM swap scam, contact your mobile service provider immediately to take back control of your phone number. After regaining access, change your account passwords. Monitor your financial accounts for unauthorized charges or changes, reporting any suspicious transactions. For more tips on protecting yourself from SIM swap fraud, check out this resource from the Federal Trade Commission.