What is SIM Swapping and How to Protect Yourself

There are more scams than ever these days. As a result, it can make it even more difficult to keep up with all the ways you can become a victim. One of the newest types of scams is SIM swapping, which is exactly as it sounds; a hacker gains access to your cell phone number and takes it over. It’s important to know exactly what this entails and how to protect yourself from this scam.

What is SIM Swapping?

SIM swapping is a type of fraud that takes over your cell phone number. It is a terrifying type of cybercrime that can result in your cell phone number being hijacked and your personal and financial data being compromised. This should alarm anyone who uses a smartphone, especially if you have a credit or debit card stored in its wallet to make purchases directly from the phone.

In addition, any other accounts you have stored on your phone, such as financial, social media, email and shopping, can be compromised in a successful SIM swapping attack. The criminal can gain access to your accounts and do whatever they like with them whether they want to use or even delete them. Once an attack has been perpetrated successfully, the thief gains full access to your number and accounts and you get locked out. You are no longer able to use your cell phone for text messaging or calls. You aren’t even able to contact your wireless carrier’s customer service directly from the device.

How Does SIM Swapping Work?

This type of fraud occurs when a thief manages to gain access to a weak two-factor authentication and verification that requires a text message or call to your cell phone number. The criminal obtains a new SIM card and contacts your carrier to use the SIM under your number.

Usually, this is a crime that occurs when sensitive data is leaked after a security breach or when too much information is shared publicly on social media. If a hacker is successful at convincing your carrier that they are you and the new SIM is activated under your number, they gain access to all your calls and texts and you lose access to it.

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How Do You Prevent SIM Swapping?

There are a few ways you can prevent SIM swapping from happening to you. One of those is to know how to identify phishing scams that can lure you and steal your precious data. Unfortunately, some thieves have grown so sophisticated, they are able to fool even the savviest people. Avoid clicking on links or downloading attachments in suspicious-looking emails or webpages. If something appears odd, don’t click on anything.

Always use strong, unique passwords that are long and include a good mixture of uppercase and lowercase letters, numbers and special characters. You should also use a passcode on your phone and add answers to security questions that only you know. If your phone has a Touch ID or Face ID feature, you should also set that up and use it if you don’t already do so.

Your wireless carrier also gives you the option of adding a PIN number to your account for security purposes. This should be something different than the passcode on your phone and adds an extra layer of protection 

If you do end up falling victim to SIM swapping, the worst-case scenario is that the hacker has drained your savings. This can leave you feeling helpless with regard to handling day-to-day expenses, not to mention any unexpected emergencies that arise during this time. If you find yourself facing an unexpected financial crisis, there are options like installment loans online for bad credit that may help you while you work with your bank to get your finances back on track. It is important to have a game plan when it comes to paying back the loans right away. 

You can protect yourself against SIM swapping. These steps can add extra peace of mind. If you do fall prey to a hacker, tell your carrier as soon as possible.



Disclaimer: This content does not necessarily represent the views of IWB.


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