Did you know your most important number is your mobile phone number?
Combined with a smartphone, this number is used for so much more than making a simple phone call. Banks, businesses and payment services often use this number to verify your identity by sending a text containing a security code. Could you imagine the financial damage a scammer could do if they gained access to this number? That is a phone porting scam.
What is phone porting?
When buying a new phone, you can typically move your current phone number over to that new phone with a few personal details provided. Really easy and convenient, especially when done over the phone.
Now think about what a scammer does.
With enough of your personal details at hand, usually obtained from social media pages with low privacy settings, the scammer could easily steal your phone number by faking your identity and move it to a new carrier, effectively locking you out of your phone service and taking control of your number. From here, they could request to change the password on your banking account, authorising this by using the unique code sent to your phone number that the scammer now has, and then empty your accounts. Terrifying.
However, the good news is that by being aware and making some simple changes, you can prevent this type of scam.
How to protect yourself.
Be proactive. If you don’t already have a PIN or a password to verify your identity when calling about your account, contact your phone company and ask about adding one.
Stay alert. Activate both email and text notifications for financial and other important accounts. If you receive notice that changes to your account have been made without your knowledge, contact the business holding that account immediately to let them know that you didn’t authorise a change.
Don’t respond. If someone calls or texts you and asks for personal information, do not provide it. If the caller claims to be from a business you are familiar with, hang up and call that business using a number you trust, such as the number on your bill, in a phone book or on the company’s website.
Don’t overshare. Keep your personal details used to verify your identity safe and definitely off social media. This includes your full name, maiden name, address, birth date, make and model of your car, pet’s name, PINs, passwords and anything that can be used to identify you over the phone.
And most importantly, ACT QUICKLY.
If you know or think you have been scammed which can include the loss of service on your device (lost reception, phone going dark or only allowing emergency calls) or received a text message informing you that your number is being ported to a different carrier, take immediate action.
- Contact your bank and other financial institutions.
- Contact your phone company.
- File a police report.
- Place a fraud alert on your credit reports and get copies of your report