If you’ve been paying attention to the news lately, you know that hacking is nothing new to technology. However, a new strategy has hackers simply needing your cellphone number.
How They Do It
Even if you’re conscious of your safety and security, you likely give out your cellphone number as contact information.
- The hacker finds out more information. Whether they look for your birthday, home address, or email address, it can be easy to find online.
- The hacker calls your wireless provider pretending to be you.
- The hacker tells your wireless provider to transfer your phone number to a new phone or device.
- When the wireless provider asks for verifying information, they will answer with the information they have learned about you online.
- The hacker can take over any account where that smartphone is the verification device. This means bank apps, email, and social media accounts are all at risk.
Most users don’t find out until they can no longer use their phones to call or text and become locked out of their accounts.
How to Prevent
- Be protective of all identifying information, including your email address and cellphone number.
- Call your wireless provider and ask to set up a passcode on your account. The wireless provider will then always ask for your passcode when asked to discuss your account.
- Ask your wireless provider if they offer additional security, such as texts or calls to authenticate before any changes are made.
- Some accounts will allow you to use an app for authentication, such as Google Authenticator, Duo Mobile, or Authy for even more heightened security.
What to Do if It Happens to You
If you find that you’re unable to make calls or send texts:
- Immediately call your wireless provider to see if there have been any changes to your account.
- Work with your wireless provider to dispute any charges and get your phone working again.
- Identify your provider’s fraud department and place an additional fraud alert online at identitytheft.gov.