SIM swap fraud is on the rise nowadays. You can hear about a case involving SIM swapping every now and then. Despite the number of steps taken to address such fraud, researchers have proven how easy it is to take over someone’s phone number. However, you can protect yourself from SIM swap fraud by taking a few precautions.
What is SIM swap fraud?
Your phone’s SIM card is what directs the phone on the network and tells it what phone number to use. Hackers also know that getting access to a user‘s SIM card could give them access to their bank details and other crucial information.
SIM swap fraud takes place when someone pretends to be you and contacts customer service to take control of your account. The scammers use publicly available information about you and your personal data, which is available via hacks and data breaches. Using this information, the hackers trick customer service into switching your SIM card with a duplicate SIM card.
Once your phone number is linked to that duplicate SIM card, all your calls and messages (OTP, emails and more) will go to the hackers. SIM swap fraud may appear difficult to pull off, but researchers have proven that it is not as difficult as it looks. Even Twitter co-founder and chief executive officer Jack Dorsey has been a victim of SIM swap fraud.
In a recent study, researchers from Princeton found that many U.S. carriers are vulnerable to SIM swapping fraud. Moreover, the risk increases in the case of a prepaid account. As part of a study, researchers were able to trick customer service representatives into getting control of devices. They were then able to disable the network access of the device remotely.
You may now have an idea of how dangerous SIM swap attacks could be. It can be seen as one of the worst forms of identity theft as your smartphone has all your confidential data, such as banking details, emails, passwords and more. Thus, all smartphone users must know how this type of attack works and how they can stay safe from such scams.
SIM swap fraud: warning signs
Now that you know how dangerous SIM swap fraud could be, let’s talk about some early warning signs that may help you spot such fraud:
Changes in service – If you are being hit with a SIM swap attack, you will receive notifications from your carrier that your SIM card is activated elsewhere. If the carrier has security measures in place, then you may get a confirmation message before hackers make any changes to your account.
Security alerts – You might have enabled security settings to get notifications or email alerts when an unauthorized person tweaks any settings, such as passwords, PINs or security questions. Thus, if you get any such notification, then it is possible that you are being attacked by a SIM swap fraud.
You should take these notifications seriously. If you get any such notifications, contact your carrier immediately. This could help you avoid SIM swap fraud.
The above two warning signs appear before hackers gain control of your phone. Here are more warning signs that could tell if you are a victim of SIM swap fraud or not:
Unable to send and receive texts and calls – If your phone has been activated elsewhere, the original SIM card will become useless, and you won’t be able to send or receive messages and make phone calls.
Unable to use email and social media accounts – If you have been signed out of your email and social media accounts, and you are unable to log in, then there is a good chance you have been hacked. Try to take back control of your accounts as quickly as possible, or else contact customer service.
Unable to use any apps – If you have been suddenly signed out of all your apps, and you can’t log back in, it means something is wrong. You must contact your service provider immediately.
Unauthorized bank activity – If your bank or any financial institutions notify you of any transactions that you have not made, then it could be that your accounts have been hacked. You must contact your bank immediately.
How to prevent SIM swap fraud
Here’s how you can prevent SIM swap fraud or at least reduce the chances of someone taking control of your phone. The best way to do so is by setting a PIN or password for your wireless account. All major carriers — T-Mobile, Verizon, Sprint and AT&T — offer the ability to add a PIN code. To set a PIN and get more details, you will have to contact your service provider.
There are a few more precautions you can take to prevent SIM swap fraud. First, never reveal confidential information such as your PIN, Passwords, CVV number, internet banking ID and more to anyone. Also, don’t disclose too much personal information about yourself on social media platforms.
Use only genuine software on your mobile and PCs, and use a good anti-virus software and update it regularly. Never reply to unknown emails or calls that ask for your account or card details. Finally, take notifications from your carrier and bank seriously, and register for both SMS and e-mail alerts for financial transactions.