SIM swapping, also called SIM splitting or hijacking, is a technique employed by online fraudsters to gain access to, seize and control a victim’s phone number and SIM information. They gain access to the victim’s identity and information through their phone company and use the information to conduct theft and other fraudulent activities online.
Recently, the FBI alerted the public on increased SIM swapping attack rates. According to the report, victims of SIM swap attacks lost more than $68 million last year, a massive rise on the about $12 million lost in the preceding three years. The report also stated that the FBI received more than 1,600 SIM swap complaints in 2021, dramatically up from 320 from 2018 to 2020.
Here are tips to help prevent these types of phishing attacks and stay safe.
Minimizing SIM Swapping Attacks
There are several ways you can help keep yourself and your loved ones safe from these attacks. Here’s a list of steps you can take to help ensure your safety.
- Don’t give out any of your personal information over calls, emails or text messages from unofficial sources. Fraudsters use these means to obtain your personal information and access your cellular, bank, credit or other financial accounts. It’s best to verify these requests by contacting your network provider or company to establish the authenticity before providing such details.
- Restrict the amount of personal information that you make available online. Most SIM swapping attacks occur when criminals gain access to your full name, address, date of birth and other sensitive information, most of which are available on the internet. A fraudster looking to hack any of your accounts can do so with these details.
- Use multiple-factor authentication (MFA) methods to secure your accounts online. Using MFA restricts access to the owner by either asking for an authentication code or a security key, often used with an authentication app, before granting access to a login attempt.
Reporting a SIM Swapping Attack
Here’s what to do if you fall victim to a SIM swapping attack:
- Contact your mobile network company immediately to help regain access to your number. When you reclaim your number, open your accounts and change your passwords.
- Contact your financial institutions and request an alert for suspicious transactions. Make sure to double-check all your transactions.
- Sign up for an identity theft protection plan with an identity theft monitoring service, which helps protect and secure your personal information.