BEWARE of phone SIM swapping SCAM: You can lose your money; here is how

Phone SIM swapping scams are rising phenomenally. A phone SIM swapping scam happens when scammers change your SIM and use it to steal your money.

| Updated on: Feb 16 2022, 18:07 IST
In phone SIM swapping scam, scammers take control of your phone number and use it to steal money from your bank account. (Unsplash)
In phone SIM swapping scam, scammers take control of your phone number and use it to steal money from your bank account. (Unsplash)

Phone SIM swapping scams are rising globally. This scary SIM card swap cybercrime can lead to fraudsters getting access to your phone number and this allows them to steal your money from your bank account. Scammers these days are finding innovative ways to swindle money from innocent victims. And one of the more popular ways is SIM card swapping. Yesterday, US's Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) released a new public service announcement where it said that SIM swapping scams have grown by a whopping 15 times in just a period of two years. In 2021 itself, there were 1,611 incidents of this scam where total losses by victims were calculated to be more than $68 million. But it is not just the US which is dealing with this new SIM swap scam, Indians too have been facing this issue. The problem is that phone users themselves give away secret information and OTPs linked to their phone numbers and bank accounts. The intent of the cybercrminals is to lure innocent phone users into revealing their secret data. Unfortunately, too many people fall for this scam. So, the first step is to make sure you protect yourself against online frauds like these by following some simple guidelines. Here is how to avoid SIM swapping scam.

SIM swapping or SIM card swapping does not mean that your physical SIM card is stolen. This is how it works.

How SIM swapping scam works

Cybercriminals use various techniques to get your SIM card blocked and get its access. There are two steps to this elaborate SIM swapping scam. First, the scammer would send malware to your smartphone through emails, fraudulent apps and malicious websites. Through this, they get access to your basic banking information as well as find out your phone number.

In the next step of the SIM scam, the scammer will call you and pretend to be a representative of your network provider. Then he will ask you various questions to get your details such as Aadhaar card number, PAN number, address, photograph and even OTP sent by telecom company or government agency. This is all the information the scammer needs to request a new SIM card from the actual network provider. That is how your phone SIM card is swapped. Usually people are trusting in nature and will give these details when someone poses to be a figure of authority or pretends to be calling from a telecom company or even bank.

After this, the scammer approaches the network service provider and requests to either port the number or asks for a new SIM card by saying that the old SIM card got lost, stolen or is not working properly . Once they prove the identity using all the details the victims shared earlier, the fraudster gets the original SIM card on your phone deactivated. And that's it. The SIM swapping scam is complete.

Now, the scammer can use your banking information and make transactions at will, since he also controls the OTP notifications and SMS. Although phone SIM swapping scam is scary, there are things you can do to protect yourself.

How to avoid SIM swapping scam

Step 1:

Do not go to any website that you do not recognize or has weird characters in its URL.

Step 2:

Do not download any unknown apps, especially from third-party sources.

Step 3:

Do not open any unknown or suspicious emails. Even if you do, do not download any attachments

Step 4:

If you get a call from someone who claims to be from your network service provider, never give them any sensitive information. Network providers already have this information and will never ask you for it.

Step 5:

Do not click on any unknown links

Step 6:

Do not get lured by promises of huge rewards in terms of money or products on WhatsApp, email, phone calls

Step 7:

Under no circumstances should you provide OTP number to anyone, not even family members

Step 8:

In case your phone connection goes dead for some reason, call the telecom company immediately  

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First Published Date: 16 Feb, 18:07 IST