Your Mobile Number Is a Target for Identity Theft
Learn how hackers can steal it and ways to protect yourself.
Identity theft takes many different forms. While most people are conscious about protecting personal information such as their social security numbers, banking information and passwords to various accounts, one often overlooked item is their mobile phone number.
How Hackers Steal Your Phone Number
Hackers can hijack your mobile phone number in the same way they can take over your email account. Known as porting, cybercriminals use stolen personal information to impersonate you and contact your mobile carrier to make changes to your account. The term porting comes from Wireless Local Number Portability (WLNP), a law dating back to 2003 that requires carriers to allow mobile users to move their existing number to a new carrier.
To help prevent this from happening, use the Identity Theft Reports feature to track multiple logins and ensure none of your data is breached:
What is Porting?
Porting is dependent on social engineering, or the use of deception to manipulate someone into divulging personal information to commit fraud. In this case, the hacker gains access to personal information to convince your wireless carrier they are you to get your mobile number moved to another service without your knowledge. In order to accomplish this, the hacker needs security information such as your social security number, date of birth and other personal data that is generally obtained through phishing attacks.
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The Impact of a Stolen Number
Once hackers port your phone number, they can change passwords and security questions on your account, add unauthorized charges to your bill such as long distance calls, text charges and data usage fees and even add additional devices and services. Additionally, they can bypass two-factor identification such as verification codes texted to you for security purposes.
There are several ways you can protect yourself and prevent thieves from porting your number.
ONE, keep your number safe is to use an alternate Virtual Phone Number (also called a VOIP). These services are readily available and you can keep your real number private and set up the service to forward calls and texts to your phone.
TWO, regularly check your monthly statement for suspicious charges and activity. If your service is abruptly disconnected or you begin receiving authentication codes you didn’t request, you should contact your service provider immediately.
THIRD, dfndr security also protects your phone from phishing attacks. Features like Anti-hacking can alert you to potential malware links in texts, messengers apps, and emails.
FOURTH, never give out sensitive information from anyone that contacts you directly claiming to be a representative from a company you do business with. Instead, find out what they are calling about, what information they need and why, and then contact the business at a published number to verify the problem.