How Sim Swap Scam works:
The scammer may call your cell phone service provider and say your phone was lost or damaged. Then they ask the provider to activate a new SIM card connected to your phone number on a new phone they own.
If your mobile service provider believes the story and activates the new SIM card, the scammer will get a sim with your number on it and will get all your text messages, calls, and data on the new phone.
The scammer could open new cellular accounts in your name or buy new phones using your information.
They could also log in to your accounts that use text messages as a form of multi-factor authentication. How? Because they’ll get a text message with the verification code they need to log in.
Armed with your login credentials, the scammer could log in to your bank account and steal your money, or take over your email or social media accounts. And they could change the passwords and lock you out of your accounts.
How can you protect yourself from Sim Swap Scam
- Don’t reply to calls, emails, or text messages that request personal information. These could be phishing attempts by scammers looking to get personal information to access your cellular, bank, credit or other accounts. If you get a request for your account or personal information, contact the company using a phone number or website you know is real.
- Limit the personal information you share online. If possible, avoid posting your full name, address, or phone number on public sites. An identity thief could find that information and use it to answer the security questions required to verify your identity and login to your accounts.
- Set up a PIN or password on your cellular account. This could help protect your account from unauthorized changes. Check your provider’s website for information on how to do this.
- Consider using stronger authentication on accounts with sensitive personal or financial information. If you do use Multi-Factor Authentication, keep in mind that text message verification may not stop a SIM card swap. If you’re concerned about SIM card swapping, use an authentication app or a security key.
- Consider using Google Authenticator or similar Time-Based OTP app as multifactor authentication instead of SMS wherever possible
What to do if you are a target of a SIM swap scam
- Contact your cellular service provider immediately to take back control of your phone number. After you regain access to your phone number, change your account passwords.
- Check your credit card, bank, and other financial accounts for unauthorized charges or changes. If you see any, report them to the company or institution.