Technology today has come a very long way in making our lives more convenient. However, there are two sides to every coin. While mobile phones and the internet have certainly brought greater connectivity and entertainment to the palm of our hands, the flip side is the increased prevalence of mobile phone scams.
Tech-savvy scammers have been known to hijack mobile phone numbers, gaining access to our personal information including social media accounts, bank statements, and more. By seizing your mobile phone number, they can assume your identity, intercept security protocols that are sent to the phone for verification and gain access to financial and social media accounts. Not fun, hey!
How are mobile porting scams executed?
Mobile users have the option of switching from one network to another while still retaining the same number. Scammers have been known to abuse this option by carrying out porting scams, where they hijack the victim’s mobile number and transfer it to their own carrier.
Such a scam involves initiating a porting request and conning the victim’s phone company into believing the request is from the authorised account holder. If the scam is successful, they will port the number to a different mobile device or account set up by the scammer.
In order to pull off this task, the scammer will often search for additional personal details about the individual. This can include their name, address, date of birth, and other personally identifiable information. At times, these details are taken from the dark web where they may have been posted during a data breach.
Once the scammer gains access, the next step is to drain the victim’s bank accounts. They may also attempt to sell or ransom access to the phone number and social media accounts back to their victim.
Signs of mobile porting
Have you noticed peculiar activity originating from your phone? This can include:
- Apps requesting permission to execute certain tasks
- A noticeable decrease in battery life
- Frequent freezing of your phone
- Unrecognised outgoing calls or texts
- Constant pop-up alerts, which tend to indicate that your phone has been invaded by some virus
- Unusual activity on accounts linked to your device.
Steps to safeguard yourself from mobile porting scams
As in this modern era, both technology and online scams are fast evolving. To protect yourself, your first step should be to make yourself aware of the nature of these scams. In addition, consider:
- Installing authorised security apps
- Keeping all the apps on your phone updated. Don’t use easily guessed numbers for your mobile phone PIN like your birthday or anniversary, both of which can be easily learnt via your social media accounts.
- Use two-factor verification for all transactions
- Limit the amount of personal information you reveal online
- Never click on links you receive from unknown numbers.
Should you fall victim to a mobile phone scam, such as mobile porting, you should immediately:
- Lodge a police complaint
- Keep your bank and credit card company informed
- Freeze access to cards
- Inform your telecommunications provider
By 2021, most of us can’t live without our mobile phones. That reliance is fine, providing that we understand the risks that accompany such an interconnected life. Prioritising internet security and being aware of the types of mobile phone scams that are out there is essential if you are to keep your personal and financial information safe.
Bridget is a writer and editor, currently living in Melbourne. She is a copywriter for Newpath Web and loves working with words of all shapes and sizes. When not playing around with punctuation and grammar, she enjoys travelling and curating her Spotify playlists.