Fraudsters are getting increasingly tricky with a scam called the port-out scam. Learn more about the scam and how you can protect yourself.
Fraudsters are getting increasingly tricky with a scam called the port-out scam or cell phone porting. This scam targets phone numbers and switches your number to a new phone and carrier, allowing fraudsters to gain access to accounts.
Learn more about the scam, how it’s done, and how you can protect yourself.
What is phone porting?
Phone porting is when a fraudster is able to switch your phone number from your current mobile provider and phone to another carrier and phone. If a fraudster is successful in doing this, the cell service on your phone will be turned off, and the new phone the fraudster has possession of will be linked to your number. This gives them access to change or update passwords through one-time verifications via texting and calling.
The Better Business Bureau summarizes the scam like this – think about all the times you’ve used your phone number to verify your identity when changing a social media or online banking password. Now imagine someone else is reading that message too and what they will have access to.
How do they do this?
First the scammer finds out your full name and phone number – then they start digging deeper. Your date of birth, Social Security number, your address, and other personal information is all relevant to the scammer and will be used to hack in to your accounts.
After gathering info, they call your current mobile provider impersonating you and tell them your phone number needs to be switched to a different provider and device. Once your number has been transferred to their mobile device, they can access passwords and accounts that require additional verification.
Fraudsters can use this method of hacking to make purchases with your credit or debit card number too. If a fraud department flags a purchase and tries to call you, the fraudster will answer it and verify the purchase with all of your personal information.
How do I protect myself?
Take these additional actions to prevent phone porting:
- Ask your wireless provider if they offer a port validation feature. Wireless providers like AT&T and T-Mobile are adding extra layers of security with a ‘port validation password’ on accounts. If someone tries to change your number to a new carrier, they will need to provide the port validation password to complete the switch. Call your provider and ask what you can do to prevent this from happening on your account.
- Beef up your passwords and lockdown your online presence. Now is a good time to make sure your passwords, including the ones used through your mobile carrier, aren’t easily guessable. Update your privacy settings on your social media and hide email addresses, phone numbers, and birthdays from the public.
- Watch out for a changing phone status. If your phone suddenly loses cell service and switches to “emergency call service only”, something may be wrong. Call your mobile provider as soon as you can to make sure no one is porting your phone.
Follow these tips to protect your phone and online accounts from fraudsters. If think you are a victim of a port-out phone scam, please contact your financial institutions and mobile provider immediately. You may also want to file a police report, especially if they have accessed your bank account information.
To contact A+FCU, call our contact center at 512.302.6800.