It's practically a full-time job staying ahead of scammers and guarding yourself against bad actors who are intent on stealing your data and stealing your money.

If you have a cellphone, scammers are looking to take advantage of a vulnerability that could transfer your service to the crook's cellphone that you've paid for.

SIM Swap Fraud

I'm tech-savvy. And while I typically stay up to date on consumer trends and profess to be able to sniff out scams when they come along, this one was new to me.

A friend (who is also rather tech-savvy) was victimized recently which prompted me to do a little investigating.

In December 2023, the FCC issued a report and order that will require cellphone carriers to refine customer authentication procedures. Here's what can happen, according to Nelson Mullins Insights:

Since cellphones have SIM cards, bad actors can convince victim's wireless provider to transfer the victim's service from their device to the crook's device.

That's exactly what happened to my friend. I'll paraphrase for clarity, but in a nutshell, she received a robocall that was supposedly from her cellphone provider, Xfinity.

  • She was told that someone was trying to access her account. Press 1 to confirm, Press 2 if it wasn't you. She naturally pressed 2.
  • Then she received a code via text and was asked to enter it into the system she did.

This was all in the name of protecting her account - or so she thought. Unfortunately, what happened was permission was granted to transfer her service and phone number to a new phone (charged to her account) while assigning a new phone number to her device.

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According to Mullins Insight, wireless number portability is convenient for cellphone customers but also creates vulnerability.

The Takeaway:

  • Always be skeptical of unsolicited messages and emails.
  • Use and require strong passwords.
  • Consider using an authenticator app.

While my friend was able to get the issue resolved with her cellphone carrier, she's left wondering how much of her personal data has been compromised.

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