The fraud is known as SIM swapping, and it can be used to take over your financial accounts. SIM swapping relies on phone-based authentication. In a successful SIM swap scam, cybercriminals could hijack your cell phone number and use it to gain access to your sensitive personal data and accounts.
Mobile banking is used by billions of telecom subscribers worldwide. As such, they are vulnerable to being hacked by unscrupulous persons through Sim Swap.
Here’s how it works. You might try to access one of your bank accounts that use text-based two-factor authentication. That means you begin to access your account by entering your user name and password. Your bank then sends an access code to your cellphone for you to complete the log-in process.
But what if fraudsters are able to change the SIM card connected to your mobile number? That would give them control over that number — and they’d receive the access code to your account.
It’s a good idea to learn about SIM fraud and SIM card swapping. That way you can help protect yourself against this type of fraud — or recognize if you’ve become a victim. Here’s what you need to know.
How do SIM swapping scams work?
A SIM swap scam — also known as SIM splitting, simjacking, sim hijacking, or port-out scamming — is a fraud that occurs when scammers take advantage of a weakness in two-factor authentication and verification in which the second step is a text message (SMS) or call to your mobile phone number.
First, some SIM-card basics. Cellphone subscriber identity module (SIM) cards are the storage for user data in Global System for Mobile (GSM) phones. Without a SIM card, your GSM phone wouldn’t be authorized to use a mobile network.
So having control over your cellphone number would be valuable to fraudsters. To steal your number, scammers start by gathering as much personal information on you as they can get and engaging in a bit of social engineering.
The scammers call your mobile carrier, impersonating you and claiming to have lost or damaged their (your) SIM card. They then ask the customer service representative to activate a new SIM card in the fraudster’s possession. This ports your telephone number to the fraudster’s device containing a different SIM. Or, they may claim that they need help switching to a new phone.
How are fraudsters able to answer your security questions? That’s where the data they’ve collected on you through phishing emails, malware, the dark web, or social media research becomes useful.
Once they gain access to and control over your cellphone number, fraudsters can then access your phone communications with banks and other organizations — in particular, your text messages. They can then receive any codes or password resets sent to that phone via call or text for any of your accounts. And that’s it: They’re in.
How do they get your money? They might set up a second bank account in your name at your bank — where, because you’re already a bank customer, there may be less robust security checks. Transfers between those accounts in your name might not sound any alarms.
How can you protect yourself from SIM swap scams?
If you do Mobile Banking from your phone, there is need to put a PIN on your SIM, otherwise, your account can be wiped clean anytime your phone is lost or stolen. The process to do this is very simple but if ignored, can cost you all your life savings.
For those who do not know about it yet, just follow these simple steps to protect hacking of your Bank Account through SIM swap/fraud.
1.) Go to SETTINGS in Your phone.
2.) Go to SECURITY & LOCATION under SETTINGS
3.) Then Click SIM CARD LOCK.
4.) Click on LOCK SIM CARD.
5.) Enter Your mobile network default SIM CARD PIN.
-For MTN users it is “00000”
-AIRTEL users it is “1111”.
-For 9mobile users it is “0000”
-GLO users, it is “0000”
6.) After entering the MOBILE NETWORK DEFAULT PIN, under it You will see ” CHANGE SIM PIN”, click on it to change to your Unique 4 digit pin,
7.) Confirm your Unique 4 digits PIN by entering it again & you are done.
So anytime you Switch On your Phone, You will be prompted to enter Your SIM CARD PIN just as You will be prompted to enter Your phone lock PIN or Draw Your PATTERN each time You Switch On your Phone.
With the ACTIVATION OF SIM LOCK, Your money can never be withdrawn from Your bank account through your SIM because Your SIM will be useless in their hands since it is blocked and You will not be under tension to go and block or retrieve Your stolen SIM.
Please, kindly share this information with your loved ones because the rate of phone theft these days are alarming as they (phone thieves) are not just after the phone but SIM CARDS linked to Your bank account.
SIM swapping is one reason why a phone number may not be the best verifier of your identity. It’s a breachable authenticator. Adding additional layers of protection could help keep your accounts — and your identity— safer.