Increase in SIM swapping scam, how to safeguard yourself

The unspecified man phoned Daly City police on January 14 and said he got a text from someone alleging to represent telecommunications provider T-Mobile.

According to him, they told him his account was frozen following numerous tries were made to alter his password. 

He thereafter got a call from a blocked number, the caller claimed to be an operator for the crypto wallet hardware company that kept the man’s Bitcoin, Ledger.

He explained that he was told his account had been compromised then pulled his passcode and anonymous account identification numbers. Upon proper examination of his Ledger account, the 48-year-old man discovered that all his funds had disappeared.

Also, in May 2018, crypto investor, Michael Terpin, was a victim of a $23.8 million SIM swap attack which was perpetrated by an 18-year-old.

What is SIM swapping scam

Although this is not a relatively new form of attack, SIM swapping scam also referred to as “Port Out scam” entails scammers convincing mobile network organizations to reallocate a person’s phone number from the person’s SIM to the one in possession of the scammer.

As soon as it is reallocated, the victim can manipulate the two-step security verification methods to change the victim’s passwords and get into their online accounts.

Additionally, different kinds of scams and frauds are rampant in the crypto space. They currently range from building imposter websites and fraudulent applications to sending malicious emails and stealing and using someone else’s identity.

Notably, these scammers particularly target crypto users. In June 2020, a Calofirnia resident, Richard Luan Yi was charged with conspiracy to commit wire fraud for his role in a number of SIM swap attacks that targeted no less than 20 people.

Similarly, Robert Ross, another victim of a SIM swap attack claimed he was defrauded of one million dollars. According to him, it was stolen after an AT&T customer service representative was scammed into redirecting Ross’s number to a cellphone under the control of a hacker.

How to be protected from SIM swapping

It is important to know that there are several means to protect and reduce the risk of becoming a victim of a SIM swapper. Networks like AT&T, T-Mobile and Verizon allow users to add a PIN code to their wireless account, which will give additional security. 

Also, users can try using unique and strong passcodes or passphrases anywhere possible and prepare personal security questions with answers that only you know.

Google Authenticator or other similar authentication apps can also help reduce the chance of falling prey to scammers. Unlike several forms of 2FA, this particularly links the verification process to one’s specific physical device, instead of to your mobile number.

Typically, the strongest protection is by not porting cell numbers to a new SIM card, so, reach out to your mobile carrier requesting them not to port your SIM without your presence and ID.

Be aware of the prevalent fraudulent activities online. Technology is continuously developing, and as it evolves, the tactics and strategies of cyber hackers are also advancing. With that, you should familiarize yourself with the typical Internet scams like phishing, compromised software, applications, and websites, and so on.

Be careful of responding to malicious emails, texts, and calls. Hackers and fraudsters usually carry out their plan by sending you either emails or text messages that need immediate attention and responses. If the message asks you for personal information or asks you to click a suspicious link, it’s likely a phishing scam. Hackers can also lure you through calls, so always be on the lookout for any unusual requests.

Additionally, it is also important to reduce the amount of private information you share online, because in some cases scammers use ones social media profiles and similar websites to get information about you, which can be utilized for scam attack.

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