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Watch out for SIM swapping hackers

October 23, 2018 GMT

BBB Scam Tracker is seeing regular reports from victims of SIM swapping, also known as SIM hijacking or cell phone porting. Hackers are using this tactic to gain control of victims’ cell numbers and access their social, email and banking accounts.

You receive a text message from your mobile carrier stating that your SIM card has been “updated.” In most cases, your phone then stops working. When you contact your cell phone company, they explain that your number was ported to another carrier, at your request.

How did this happen? Scammers called your cell phone carrier, claimed to be you and told them your SIM card was lost or stolen. They requested your number be transferred to a SIM card already in their possession. In most cases, scammers only need your home address or Social Security number to pose as you.

By the time you realize something’s up, report the problem, and resolve it, several hours or days can pass. This gives the scammers time to access any account that verifies your identity via text message. Scammers can access your bank account and make transfers, gather personal information from your email, and even steal your social media handles to impersonate you further.

PROTECT YOURSELF FROM SIM SWAPPING: Set up extra security with your mobile provider. Most major cell phone carriers allow you to set up additional verification measures that can prevent a stranger from successfully porting your phone number.

Stop linking your phone number to your online accounts. Instead, create strong passwords and security questions.

Be extra careful when sharing personal information.

Never share your full name, phone number, address, and other personal information with people or companies you don’t know and trust.

To read more about cell phone porting scams, visit www.bbb.org/us/news and search for “BBB Warns About Cell Phone Porting Scams”.

To learn more about scams, go to BBB Scam Tips at BBB.org/ScamTips. If you’ve been targeted by this scam, help others avoid the same problem by reporting your experience with BBB’s Scam Tracker at BBB.org/ScamTracker.