How To Protect Yourself Against SIM Swap Fraud 

If you thought it was embarrassing when your mates got into your Facebook page, you’re going to have a tough time dealing with the aftermath of someone hacking your smartphone. Digital banking fraud increased by a dizzying 75% in 2018, and many are blaming this trend on a type of account takeover fraud called SIM Swapping. As it happens, mobile banking fraud involving a SIM swap rose by 200%. Coincidence? I think not! Since there were no reports of banking app software being compromised, the true culprit and threat to your mobile security must be SIM swapping. Phil here, to tell you how you can guard your phone against the smartphone hacking epidemic of SIM swap scams!

What Is SIM Swapping?

SIM swapping (a.k.a. “SIM splitting” or “SIMjacking”) is a form of account takeover fraud that takes advantage of a weakness in the two-factor authentication (2FA) and two-step verification process. This form of verification involves an SMS or call placed to a mobile phone to confirm the consent of the phone owner before a transaction can go through.

With your phone number, a hacker can reset your passwords on online accounts by redirecting these 2FA confirmation texts. After that, they have all the access they need to very personal information, like, say, your banking details.

But you’re no idiot; you don’t give your number to just anyone. Right?

Well, credit where credit is due: these scumbags know their stuff. A mobile hacker can get their hands on your phone number through a number of nefarious means like phishing emails, by buying them from organised criminals, or by directly social engineering the victim. Once they have your number, it just becomes a matter of manipulating your cell phone service provider into porting your phone number to the hacker’s SIM card. In some instances, SIM numbers are changed directly by a well-bribed telecom company employee.

How To Prevent Becoming a Victim Of SIM Swapping

Verify connectivity errors. Don’t be too quick to assume that Eskom is to blame for a sudden loss in connectivity. Contact your service provider (on another device obviously) and verify for yourself whether a SIM swap is underway.

Don’t switch off your mobile phone. Before a fraudster carries out a SIM swap, they’ll often make repeated calls to their victims in hopes the rightful SIM owner switches off their phone in frustration. Do not – I repeat, do not! – switch off your phone! Once you do, the SIM swap goes ahead and you’re none the wiser. Rather check in with your service provider.

Check Your Bank Statement. Another very important call will be to your bank (naturally). If you see any suspicious purchases show up on your bank statement, contact your bank’s fraud alert hotline immediately as well as your cell phone service provider.

Final Word From Phil:

At the end of the day, the only SIM swap you really care for is a legit one that takes place between you and your service provider. If you love your smartphone but are missing a connection, you can get SIM-only deals from leading mobile phone service providers like MTN and Vodacom through Phonefinder. A SIM-only contract gives you all the perks of a smartphone contract like data bundles, text messages, and airtime, at only a fraction of the price. Whether you’re looking for a new smartphone or just a new smartphone contract, make Phonefinder your first call!

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