SIM Swap Scam

I thought I would share the following information regarding a scam known as “Sim Swap Scam

I work in IT and I’d never even heard of it, but apparently its been around for quite a while!!!

As a new and emerging scam, you’ve probably never heard of the SIM swap scam before – few outside of the banking and telecoms industry have, but that’s all the more reason to educate yourself about it. To help you get to grips with what the scam is and the warning signs you should look out for, we’ve put together this guide.

In today’s mobile-centric world, using mobile phones for Internet banking is standard practice for most people, but do customers know they could be at risk of a new type of scam? SIM swap fraud, where scammers cancel and re-activate new SIM cards to hack into bank accounts, is reportedly on the rise.

What exactly is SIM swap?

Fraudsters obtain an individual’s banking details either through a phishing email they’ve sent or by purchasing these from organised crime networks. This information is then used to open up a parallel account with the same bank as the victim and under their name – some banks make fewer security checks if the account holder is already a customer.

The conman then scours the social media accounts of the victim to find information that could potentially help them answer security questions. Armed with this, they then call the victim’s mobile phone provider (established from the victim’s bank statement), posing as them and report their phone as lost or damaged. If they successfully pass the security checks, the old SIM is cancelled and a new one activated – the one that’s in the fraudster’s phone.

The fraudster is then able to have full access to the victim’s mobile account from their own phone, having the ability to intercept phone calls and receive text messages or authorisations such as those used for cash transfers. After transferring funds from the victim’s current account to the newly set up account, the fraudster can use their phone to agree to this.

Due to the sophisticated nature of this scam, most victims only know that there’s a problem when their mobile stops working and they are forced to report it to their provider.

Why is it on the rise?

Currently SIM swap fraud is quite difficult to detect. Since it is a fairly new type of scam, banks are still trying to find effective ways of identifying when a customer’s mobile number has been fraudulently swapped and ported onto a new device. With fraudsters continuing to exploit this weakness, putting better authentication processes in place is vital.

What are the risks to customers?

Anyone who uses mobile banking services or notifications is potentially at risk. Customers make themselves particularly vulnerable by answering fraudulent calls or illegitimate emails which ask for personal details. It’s about being vigilant and responsible for protecting your personal data. Given that fraudsters are using personal details sourced from social media, customers need to be applying the necessary privacy settings on their profiles to stop criminals from snooping.

Protect yourself

To make sure you’re not the next victim of a scam like this, protect yourself by doing a few of the following:

  • Never open or forward emails that you think might be spam or enter your details into an email link.
  • Make sure you have the most up-to-date software installed on your computer (some banks offer free security software, so check their website first).
  • Be strict about the type of personal information you share on social media sites, as your date of birth, first pet or school could be used to answer security questions. Make sure your security settings are set to maximum privacy too.
  • Be careful about what you’re downloading especially when coming from unknown sources or ‘pop-ups’.
  • Always use complicated passwords (e.g. a mixture of lower and upper case as well as numbers or symbols) and try to stay away from obvious choices such as names or date of birth. Never use the same password for more than one account either.
  • If you notice that you’re not receiving calls and messages, get in contact with your bank.

Here’s a couple of examples, the most recent being in the Manchester Evening News:

Losses to the victims can be from just a few hundred pounds up to thousands of pounds!!!!!

The information above was culled from various websites on the net to put togeather hopefully enough information to keep you safe and aware