SIM swap, the latest fraud technique, happens when a hacker is able to transfer your mobile phone number to another SIM card in their possession thereby securing their exclusive use of your number and in doing so, part of your identity.
Fraudsters can physically change it if they have access to your phone or do so remotely by calling your mobile phone provider to impersonate you and activate a new SIM card.
How do you find out if you've been the victim of a SIM swap?
A SIM card is the bridge between your mobile device, your number and your provider. You may have already had to ask to swap your SIM card yourself either because you lost your device or changed to another mobile service provider. Your phone number then was legitimately transferred to a new SIM card.
However, if you’re the victim of fraud via a SIM swap, your mobile device could suddenly lose its connection to the cellphone network you’re subscribing to. So you won’t get any more calls, texts or emails because now the hacker is receiving them on their device. The fraudster can also reset your passwords and access your online accounts to use them as they please, especially when your phone number is used as an authentication factor or for recovering your accounts.
How can you protect yourself from this type of fraud?
To avoid making yourself an easy target for fraudsters, here are a few tips to improve security for your SIM card:
Add a complicated PIN to lock your SIM card and keep it secret.
Choose complex usernames and passwords that are different across all your accounts (emails, social networks, banks, government, etc.).
Use two-factor authentication that is more secure than emails or texts, for example a security key or an app like Google Authenticator or Microsoft Authenticator.
Make sure you’re not needlessly sharing personal details. Your birthday, phone number, card numbers, driver’s licence numbers, subscriptions numbers or any other number should remain confidential and should not appear in your emails or on social networks.
Be vigilant when it comes to phishing attempts by email, text or phone. Never give out personal information through those means.
What do you do if you’re the victim of SIM swapping?