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How SIM Swapping and Port-Out Scams Can Lead to Account Takeovers

  • November 9, 2021
  • By Erin Palmer

    Erin Palmer

    Content Marketing Specialist

    Erin Palmer is a content marketing specialist for Suncoast Credit Union. She has written articles for numerous publications and websites, including the Chicago Tribune and Huffington Post. Erin is happiest when curled up with a book, trying a new restaurant or playing with her dogs.

    We’d love to hear your thoughts about the blog! Email us and share what you think.

When it comes to your personal accounts, the last thing you want to experience is an account takeover. When fraudsters take over your accounts, it can lead to you losing money and possibly being unable to recover your accounts.

SIM swapping and port-out scams are two types of fraud that could lead to account takeover. These scams let fraudsters take control of mobile devices to intercept online banking authentication passcodes needed to log in to bank accounts.

Let’s go over how these scams work and what you can do to protect yourself.

SIM Swapping Scams Explained

In a SIM swapping scam, a fraudster calls your mobile phone carrier and uses social engineering to impersonate you and trick the phone carrier into activating a replacement SIM card. Then the fraudster has a SIM card with your personal information on it, which gives the fraudster the ability to receive your phone calls and text messages.

Port-Out Scams Explained

Port-out scams work in a similar way as SIM swapping, with fraudsters calling your mobile phone company while pretending to be you, then hijacking your cell phone number by transferring it to their own carrier.

With either of these scams, once scammers take over your mobile phone number, they can use it for identity theft. Having access to your phone lets them intercept security options like text messages used for two-factor authentication. They can also overtake your financial and social media accounts.

How to Protect Yourself from SIM Swapping and Port-Out Scams

  • Contact your mobile company to put a port freeze or PIN/ password on your account that you can use to verify your identity when calling
  • Do not respond to calls, texts, or emails that ask for personal information, even if they claim to be a legitimate business; simply hang up and contact the business directly using a phone number you can verify is real
  • Never share personal details on social media that could be used for identity verification, like your Social Security number, date of birth, mother’s maiden name, pet’s name, etc.
  • Ask your mobile carrier if they have any safety features to prevent this sort of scam, like a number lock
  • Set up email and text notifications for all of your important accounts so you will be notified right away if changes have been made without your knowledge
  • Consider using more secure two-factor authentication options, like a token that generates passcodes or a notification

Warning Signs for SIM Swapping and Port-Out Scams

Not sure if you have been impacted by a SIM swapping or port-out scam? Here are some potential signs that you may have been impacted by this type of fraud:

  • Friends let you know that your social media accounts appear to be hacked and you see social posts you didn’t create
  • Your phone starts having issues such as the inability to text or call
  • Your phone network shows no signal and your SIM card doesn’t show your service provider
  • You get emails about account changes or a new SIM card being activated that you did not initiate
  • You cannot access your own account

If you think you have been a victim of a SIM swap or port-out scam, take action immediately. Contact your phone provider and financial institutions. You may need to file a police report or place a fraud alert on your credit reports, if you are unable to recover your accounts.

 

Suncoast members, if you have been a target or are concerned you may have been a victim of a scam, please send an email to abuse@suncoastcreditunion.com.

 

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