With the latest spike in SIM swap fraud, make sure you take all the precautions you can to avoid becoming a victim
Most of us are attached to our cellphone - which is what makes the fact that fraudsters can take control of your financial future without ever laying hands on it even more terrifying. All they need is your personal information (ID, address, etc) and your cellular information (cell number, provider, etc) to request a new SIM for your number.
How does a SIM swap work?
Usually, if your SIM card is damaged or lost, all you need to do is go to your mobile operator with your ID and request a replacement. Fraudsters are taking advantage of this, inserting the newly acquired SIM card in one of their phones, and using it to intercept things such as your banking notifications and approval SMSes - allowing them to transfer large amounts of money out of your account without you even noticing.
- The fraudster will approach your mobile operator pretending to be you. They may have a fraudulent copy of your ID and will request a new SIM card
- Once approved, the old SIM card will no longer receive information and you may notice that your phone will not be getting signal. Some SIM swaps require you to turn off your phone
Often, you will get a call from someone posing as a consultant from the mobile company requesting you to turn off your phone; or to confirm some of your personal details. Never supply any personal information to anyone over the phone.
Once all this has happened, any NotifyMe alerts, payment confirmation and other SMSes will go to the fraudsters
They may have my SIM, but how did they get my bank details?
SIM swapping is usually phase two of a fraud attack. Initially, they will have sent you a phishing email (or other similar phishing attempt) to get all your banking details. They will also work toward getting your personal information and may even go as far as stealing your identity and create fraudulent ID documents. In order to use all of this gathered information, they need access to your phone - hence the SIM swap.
What can I do?
The first line of defence against SIM swaps is to protect your personal and cellphone account information from known or 3rd parties and websites (such as cellphone contract type, debit order dates, ID, addresses, transaction behaviour, etc)
- Be vigilant and try stay aware of your cellphone’s network connectivity status. If you realise that you are not receiving any calls or SMS notifications, something may be wrong and you should make enquiries to be sure that you have not fallen victim to this scam
- Some Mobile Network Operators send customers an SMS to alert you of an instruction to SIM swap - which means you can act and stop this fraud in its tracks by contacting your mobile operator immediately
- Do not switch off your cellphone in the event you are receiving numerous annoying calls, rather don’t answer the calls. This could be a ploy to get you to turn off your phone or put it on silent to prevent you from noticing that your connectivity has been tampered with