What is a Port-Out Scam?
Did you know your cell phone number can be stolen, along with your money and identity?
A port-out scam is a way for hackers to steal your hard earned money and even your identity by taking control of your cell phone number and your phone service. The scariest part is that this type of scam can also help scammers get past added security measures on personal and financial accounts and logins. However, you can keep yourself protected by taking simple precautions.
Port-out scams have been seen across the country. Cell phone porting involves a scammer finding your name and phone number and attempting to gather personal identifiable information about you. This may include your social security number, date of birth, or other information that can be used to steal your identity. The criminal will then contact your cell phone provider impersonating you, and inform them that your phone was stolen and request for the number to be “ported” with another provider and device.
Once your number is ported, they can start accessing and entering accounts that require additional authorization, such as a code texted directly to your phone. These added security measures are usually provided by social networks, tax preparation software, email providers, and even financial institutions.
Think of how many times you have set up an account for social networking, email, or your online bank account. Or maybe you had to change your password—how many times were you required to verify your identity through a text message code? What if you weren’t the only one who was reading that message? The port-out scam could bypass that layer of security could potentially steal your identity faster than you think.
Protect yourself from port-out scams with these tips
- Inquire with your wireless provider about port-out authorization. Most major wireless companies have additional security for accounts that customers can set up, such as a unique pin or added verification question. This will make it more difficult for someone to port-out your phone.
- Call your mobile phone company if your phone suddenly switches to “emergency call service only”, or something similar. This can happen when your phone is being transferred to another phone, and will only allow you to make emergency calls.
- Be cautious about communications you receive. Watch for alert messages and texts in response to two-factor authentication requests.