The Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) has reported a recent increase in Subscriber Identity Module (SIM) card scams. Often referred to as SIM swap scams, hackers gain entry to your cell phone account and switch your phone number to another SIM card, allowing them access to text messages, emails and other account information saved on the phone. It’s important to know the warning signs and steps to avoid becoming a victim.
What is a SIM card?
A SIM card is a memory chip inside a mobile device that stores data, including identifying information about the phone’s owner, contact list, text messages and more. Without a SIM card, a phone is unable to connect with a cellular network to make calls or send text messages.
How does the scam work?
A SIM swap often happens when a hacker pretends to be the owner of the cell phone account and convinces the mobile carrier representative to switch the SIM card information to another SIM card they own, often by saying the original phone was lost or damaged. Once they gain access, the scammer is able to log into personal or financial accounts and may be able to bypass two-factor authentication by confirming text or email verifications.
Signs you may be a victim include, but are not limited to:
- Cell phone loses service and unable to place calls or send or receive text messages.
- Receiving notifications that the SIM card has been activated on a new device.
- Unable to log into online personal and financial accounts.
Steps to avoid becoming targeted:
- Limit sharing personal information on social media, especially phone numbers.
- Set up a unique pin or password on your cell phone account to protect from unwanted changes.
- Avoid storing usernames or passwords on the phone.
- Use a variation of unique passwords for online accounts.
- Use strong multi-factor authentication on accounts with sensitive personal or financial information.
If you believe you have been a victim of SIM swapping, contact your mobile carrier immediately. Change your online account passwords and keep an eye out for suspicious activity. Report the activity to your local law enforcement agency and the FBI’s Internet Crime Complaint Center at ic3.gov.
If you are a MVSB customer and you are concerned your personal or financial information was compromised due to SIM swapping, please call us directly at 800.922.6872 so that we can assist you with protecting your accounts and identity.