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Has your cell phone number made it into the wrong hands?
For many, a scammer with our phone number may not seem like a very big deal. After all, what exactly can they use a stolen phone number for other than making unwanted calls or sending spammy text messages?
As it turns out, quite a lot. In fact, a phone number often provides the only info scammers need to unlock your data and disrupt your life. If you’re not careful, those errant digits could create real havoc for your financial accounts, your identity and much more.
Below, we take a look at what a scammer can do with your cell number and what you can do to fight back.
Yes! Scammers and cybercriminals are more sophisticated than ever. And if a scammer gets their hands on your cell number, they can use that info to access other personal details you’d rather stay hidden. Once out there, that info then puts you at risk of a variety of scams, including SIM swapping, identity theft and more.
Needless to say, keeping your mobile phone numbers and personal info under wraps is more important than ever.
Modern scammers don’t need much more than your name and phone number to collect your personal data, hack your sensitive accounts and ruin your digital life. Cell phone numbers can even be used to get around security protocols, steal money from your financial accounts and steal your number outright, often leaving you to pick up the pieces.
In short, your phone number is generally more than enough information to steal more info and commit fraud. With only your phone number, scammers can run an incredible variety of nefarious schemes, including:
A SIM swap involves using SIM cards linked to your number to hijack your number and your cellphone carrier account. With a new SIM card and your phone number in hand, scam artists trick not only your phone company but also financial institutions like your credit card company that use your number to identify you.
This SIM card fraud is also known as cell phone number rerouting, or scam porting.
Spoofing is one of the more common ways fraudsters use your phone number against you. Spoofing allows scam perpetrators to make your number appear on caller ID instead of their own, even though it’s not you calling.
With spoofing apps available everywhere these days, this type of fraud is all too easy to pull off.
Smishing is where criminals use your number to send scam texts and steal personal information. Texting scams trick people done one of two ways: 1) they contain malware-filled links that infect people’s devices and gain access to personal data, and 2) they pretend to be a trusted service professional from, say, the IRS or your bank, and request personal details to send money or solve a “problem.”
Using just your mobile phone number, hackers and scammers can access a surprising amount of personal data, including such details as your current and previous addresses, email, birthdate and even sensitive financial information.
Once a scammer uses your number to unlock troves of personal data, they can then steal your identity and, in some cases, turn your life upside down.
Scammers can obtain your cell phone number in a variety of ways, but in most cases, the likeliest culprit is a data breach. Once a company’s systems have been hacked, the breached client data often ends up on the dark web, where cybercriminals buy and sell stolen personal info every day.
Criminals can also find mobile numbers by pulling old phone company statements and other bills from your trash. Additionally, online data aggregates (people search sites) offer endless opportunities for scammers to track down your mobile number and access your info.
Of course, the best cure for scams is stop fraudsters from accessing your phone number and other info in the first place. But if hackers do end up with your phone number, there are things you can do to prevent the problem from getting worse:
Be wary of random requests for your information, and always do your research first.
Doing so can help protect your contacts on guard for potential fraud attempts in the future.
Most phone companies will help install additional security measures on your account to prevent other access in the future. Ask your carrier about adding a second password to your account.
From your primary email account to social media accounts, bank logins and online profiles, take time to replace each password and update your login info immediately.
When doing so, make sure the account is not linked to any other person or personal information.
Any messages asking for personal info or claiming your accounts have been hacked should be avoided at all costs. Never click a link from a message or contact you don’t recognize.
If you have a scammer on the phone, the most important thing to do is to avoid engagement. Never offer or provide personal info, particularly your social security number or bank account password. No matter what the scammer is looking for or how many calls you get, never give in to demands for information.
Once the call is over, you may want to report the fraud to the Federal Trade Commission (FTC). The FTC can use that info to identify trends, update public info on different types of fraud and build a case against repeat cybercriminals.
With a customized personal information removal solution, you can erase your phone number from search and gain control of your info for good. Want to learn more? Contact an Online Removal Specialist or Schedule Your Free Consultation today.