Old scams (like phone porting) are back - here are six ways to protect yourself.

The scams we thought were in the past are being revisited by scammers in an attempt to con Aussies out of their hard-earned money.

One scam that has reemerged after taking a back seat to more sophisticated scams is the “phone porting scam”.

Also known as “SIM-swapping,” a phone porting scam occurs when a scammer takes control of a customer’s phone and uses their personal information to request a new SIM card.

Unfortunately, the scammers will try and gather enough of your personal details, often from social media pages with low privacy settings or other locations across the web. With this information, they can impersonate you to steal your phone number and transfer it to a new carrier, effectively locking you out of your phone service and gaining control of your number. From there, the scammer could quickly request to change the password to a banking account, using the unique code sent to your phone number that they now possess, and then start accessing your accounts and money.

Businesses are also under the pump with the ACCC, Australia’s consumer watchdog, cautioning them about the resurgence of fake invoice scams1. While the infamous Nigerian letter scam from the 1990s hasn’t reappeared, the emergence of the phone porting scam demonstrates that scammers are adapting old schemes to target new victims. However, with vigilance, individuals and businesses alike can avoid these deceptive tactics.

Six ways to protect yourself and your phone number.

  1. Set up a PIN or password: Contact your telco to add a PIN or password to verify your identity when calling about your account. This adds an extra layer of security.
  2. Safeguard your personal information: Protect personal details used for identity verification, such as your full name, maiden name, address, birth date, make and model of your car, pet’s name, PINs, and passwords. Avoid sharing this information on social media or with unauthorised individuals.
  3. Activate email and text notifications: Make sure to enable email and text notifications for your banking and other important accounts. If you receive a notification about changes you didn't authorise, contact the financial institution or business immediately.
  4. Don’t dismiss alerts: While some experts mention "alert fatigue" from emails and texts, it's important to pay attention to every alert sent from your bank.
  5. Be wary of requests for personal information: If you receive a call or text requesting personal information, refrain from providing it. If the caller claims to be from a familiar business, hang up and contact the business directly using a reliable number you trust.
  6. Verify Defence Bank: If you receive a call from someone claiming to be from Defence Bank, ask them to send you a Verify Defence Bank secure message to your Defence Bank app or online banking. If an excuse is made, or an SMS text message is sent instead, hang up. It’s a scammer.
  7. Stay informed and vigilant: Stay informed about potential scams and be vigilant in protecting your personal information. Regularly review your accounts for any unauthorised activity.

If you suspect you’ve been scammed, act quickly. Signs can include losing service on your device (like lost reception or your phone going dark) or receiving a text message about your number being ported. Take immediate action by:

  • Contacting your bank and other financial institutions.
  • Contacting your telco.
  • Filing a police report.
  • Placing a fraud alert on your credit reports and obtaining copies of your report.

Would you like to learn more?

For more on how to keep your money safe, talk to the team at Defence Bank. Reach out to our Contact Centre on 1800 033 139 or visit your local branch to find out more.


1 https://www.scamwatch.gov.au/news-alerts/scam-alert-fake-business-invoice-scams


Important note: This information is of a general nature and is not intended to be relied on by you as advice in any particular matter. You should contact us at Defence Bank to discuss how this information may apply to your circumstances.


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