How to Protect Yourself from SIM Swap Scams

Sim card scams are nothing new, but according to the FBI, they are growing in occurrence. In fact, according to the FBI, victims lost $68 million to this scam in 2021, which is more than five times the amount lost in the three years before it combined. This means that it is crucial to take steps to protect yourself, and here is how.

How Sim Swapping Works

There are a few steps that scammers take to perform this scam work, and it is important to know them so you can take steps to prevent it. First of all, the scammer needs to acquire a few personal details about the potential victim, and they will generally do this through phishing emails or purchasing information stolen by others off of the dark web.

After collecting the details they need, they will use this information to contact the victim’s cell service provider under the guise of being the victim and report that their SIM card has been stolen. Though some cell providers use PINs that only the customer should know, many times, a scammer can convince the service representative that they have simply forgotten theirs. In other cases, phone company employees have been found to be in on the scam themselves.

If this stage of the scam works, the scammer will now ask for the victim’s cell phone number to be transferred to their own device. This will then allow them to use two-factor authentication to access the victim’s accounts. From here, the scammer can steal money from the victim using their bank or credit card accounts or sell access to other criminals.

How Can You Protect Yourself?

To protect yourself from sim card swapping, you will need to protect your information and passwords carefully. Here are a few tips the FBI has given for protecting your information.

Do not post personal information on social media accounts, such as your address and phone number. This includes information about financial assets such as cryptocurrency and photos, which may reveal personal information.

If you receive a call from someone claiming to be a representative of your cell service provider, do not give them any information until you verify the call by dialing up the customer service line of your provider.

Pay attention if there is a sudden change in your cell service. If a scammer has transferred your service, you need to act quickly to keep them from accessing your accounts.

Use strong multi-factor security for all of your accounts. This could include physical security tokens, biometric authentication, or standalone authentication methods.Never store account information such as usernames, passwords, or any other information on a mobile account.

If you believe that you may have already been the victim of a SIM swap scam, you should immediately notify your cell service provider and change the passwords to your online accounts. You can also report the scam online to the FBI’s Internet Crime Complaint Center. You may also wish to perform a self background check to ensure that any personally identifying information that was stolen was not used criminally.

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