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Protect Yourself from Port-Out Scams

Protect Yourself from Port-Out Scams

Reading time: 6 minutes

Beware of Port-Out Scams: How to Protect Your Phone Number and Identity

In an age where our lives are intertwined with our smartphones, losing control of our phone number can be catastrophic. Unfortunately, there's a rising threat known as port-out scams, a crafty tactic used by scammers to hijack your mobile phone number and potentially gain access to sensitive information. In this post, PureTalk delves into what a port-out scam entails, how they work, and most importantly, how you can safeguard yourself against them.

Concerned looking woman checking her cell.

Understanding Port-Out Scams

Port-out scams involve scammers transferring (or "porting out") your phone number from your current service provider to another one. Once they've gained control of your number, they can exploit it in various malicious ways. These include:

Identity Theft:

With access to your phone number, scammers can potentially intercept sensitive information, such as two factor authentication codes sent via text messages. This information can then be used to compromise your online accounts or commit identity theft.

Older couple looking with concern at a laptop.

Financial Fraud:

Scammers might use your hijacked phone number to get into your bank account and authorize financial transactions, such as transferring funds or making purchases, especially if your phone number is linked to your bank, financial accounts or credit cards.

Social Engineering:

Armed with your mobile number, scammers can impersonate you to extract sensitive information from your contacts or manipulate them into providing personal or financial details.

How Port-Out Scams Work

Port-out scams typically follow a series of steps:

Gathering Information:

Scammers collect your personal details, often obtained from data breaches or social engineering tactics.

Contacting Your Carrier:

Using your personal information, scammers call your service provider and impersonate you, requesting to port your number to a new device or carrier.

Porting Your Number:

If successful, your phone number is transferred to a new SIM card or different service provider chosen by the scammer, effectively hijacking it.

Exploiting Access:

With control of your phone number, scammers can intercept calls and text messages, bypass security measures, and potentially wreak havoc on your finances and personal data.

Older woman looking at her credit card.

Protecting Yourself from Port-Out Scams

While port-out scams can be alarming, there are several steps you can take to minimize the risk:

Avoid Divulging Sensitive Information:

Protect personal details that could authenticate your identity, such as the final four digits of your Social Security number, your phone number, birth date, your car's make and model, your pet's name, or your mother's maiden name. Steer clear of sharing such information on social media accounts.

Man in a blue shirt posting on social media.

Enable PIN or Password Protection:

Most carriers offer the option to set up a PIN or password that must be provided before any changes, including porting out your number, can be made. Ensure you set up a strong and unique PIN or password and regularly update it. If you don’t already have a PIN or a password to verify your identity when calling about your account, contact your phone company and ask about adding one.

Activate Email and Text Notifications:

Do this for all accounts, particularly financial and online banking ones. If you're alerted about unauthorized changes to your account, promptly reach out to the respective business to report the unauthorized activity and ensure your account's security.

Monitor Your Accounts:

Regularly review your bank statements, online accounts, and mobile bills for any suspicious activity. Report any unauthorized transactions or changes to your carrier immediately.

Beware of Phishing Attempts:

Be cautious of unsolicited calls, emails, or texts requesting personal or financial information. Verify the authenticity of any communication from your carrier before divulging sensitive details.

Blonde-haired woman on the phone.

If someone calls or texts you and asks for personal information, do not provide it. If the caller claims to be from a business you are familiar with, hang up and call that business using a number you trust, such as the number on your bill, in a phone book or on the company’s website.

Avoid Oversharing:

Protect personal information that could be used to verify your identity, like the final four digits of your Social Security number, phone number, date of birth, your middle name, car make and model, pet's name, or mother's maiden name. Refrain from posting such details on social media accounts.

Stay Informed:

Keep yourself updated on the latest scams and security threats. Knowledge is your best defense against falling victim to fraudsters.

Act Quickly

Typically, loss of service on your device – your phone is suddenly disconnected or only allowing 911 calls – is the first sign you're the victim of a port-out scam. If you suspect you have been a victim of a porting-out scam, take the following steps immediately to report it and request additional security measures:

Contact your phone company

Contact your bank and other financial institutions

File a police report

Place a fraud alert on your credit reports and get copies of your report

Mature couple looking with concern at a tablet.

File a Complaint

If you notice unusual activity and feel you’re the victim of a porting-out scam, file a complaint with the Federal Communications Commission (FCC). You can do this for free. The FCC Complaint Center FAQ has more information about the agency’s informal complaint process. 

You can also file complaints about identity theft and consumer fraud with the FTC.

Conclusion

Port-out scams pose a significant threat to your privacy, finances, and personal security. By understanding how these scams operate and taking proactive measures to protect yourself, you can minimize the risk of falling victim to them.

Remember to stay vigilant, secure your accounts with strong passwords and PINs, and never hesitate to reach out to your mobile carrier if you suspect any suspicious activity.

Happy man smiling and talking on his cell.

With a combination of awareness and proactive steps, you can keep your phone number and identity safe from the clutches of scammers.

Please note: Unless otherwise requested, a PureTalk representative will never contact you requesting for you to verify your PIN, address or security questions. PureTalk shares your love of our country, family values, and your need to access the world with a wireless provider that’s always here for you. It’s crucial that all of our customers feel the support and protection from our PureTalk Team, so don’t hesitate to reach out with any questions, whenever and wherever you need us at 877-820-7873.

 

 


Posted 1 month ago