There are numerous cell phone scams facing people today, such as SMS phishing, fake apps, and Facebook friend request scams. However, one that is commonly overlooked or unknown to the general public is the port-out scam. What is it and how can someone protect themselves from it? We discuss this and more below.
What Is A Port-Out Scam?
A port-out scam occurs when a person steals your phone number and transfers it to another phone and carrier service they have control over. They ultimately want to shut down your carrier account and have control over your phone so they can get access to your personal information.
All they need to do this is obtain information about you such as your name, phone number, date of birth, email address, last four digits of your social security number, and answers to possible security questions. Then, they try to trick phone company representatives into thinking they are the person they’re trying to scam. The purpose of this scam is to gain access to a person’s phone in order to carry out criminal acts like stealing finances from bank accounts, break into online accounts, and identity theft.
Another method that these scammers use to conduct this type of scam is SIM hijacking (SIM swapping).
SIM Hijacking Explained
SIM Hijacking works very similarly to how general port-out scams are carried out. The scammers obtain information about you to trick company representatives into sending them a new SIM card for your phone. Then, they place the SIM card into their phone which disables your cell phone automatically. Once this happens, the scammers can get access to your phone contents including text messages, social media, and security settings like 2-factor authentication.
How To Protect Yourself
- Two-Factor Authentication
On your phone and for all your accounts and apps, use two-factor authentication if possible. When enabled, someone would have to provide two or more forms of evidence to gain access to an account. However, be careful not to use phone call or text verification as an option, as these are less secure.
- Use Phone Security Settings
Every phone comes with built-in security measures and features to protect intruders from accessing it. These features may include fingerprint authorization, facial recognition, pattern sign-in, and more. If you have any questions regarding the settings that are available on your mobile device, visit the phone manufacturer’s website.
- Be Careful Who You Provide Your Personal Information To
Whether you provide your name, SSN, date of birth, credit card number, home address, or email address, be careful who you give your personal information to. Even if the person seems trusting or supposedly represents a reputable company, don’t fall prey to what they’re offering. If you are even considering it, do some research.
- Use Strong Passwords For All Your Accounts
The easiest way to protect accounts on your phone is by using strong passwords. These passwords usually contain 16+ random characters of symbols, numbers, lower and uppercase letters. The password should have no relation to you whatsoever. For example, a password like “12345” is something a scammer could easily guess and use to access your account.
By taking these precautions, you shouldn’t fall prey to the port-out scam. Want to learn more about common technology scams? Check out this resource page.