If your mobile phone suddenly stops working, notify your bank immediately as well as your service provider – you may have fallen victim to SIM swap fraud, which will quickly empty all the money out of your bank account.
The way it works is this: the fraudsters obtain bank account details by buying them from criminal gangs or sending the victim phishing emails; they open a business account in the victim’s name at the same bank (there are fewer security checks for existing customers); and they call the mobile phone provider to report the phone lost or stolen (using information from social media to guess passwords and answer security questions). The old SIM is then cancelled and a new one activated.
At this point, the fraudster has control of the victim’s mobile account and is able to change security settings and transfer money from one bank account to another. The victim may not realise that anything is wrong until all the money has gone from their account.
Protection Against Sim Swap Fraud
Everyone can protect themselves to a certain extent against SIM swap fraud – by using complicated passwords that do not contain personal information, changing passwords regularly and not using the same password on more than one account, not responding to phishing calls, texts or emails, not opening files from unknown sources, never entering personal details in a link, installing anti-virus software, and not posting too much personal information on social media.
Also, if you get a load of nuisance calls, don’t just switch off your phone in frustration – fraudsters sometimes do this to ensure there’s a delay in the victim noticing a loss of service when their SIM has been switched.
It does seem that mobile providers have inadequate security on calls requesting changes to accounts, so the more that customers do to protect themselves, the better.