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SIM Swapping Scams

SIM Swapping Scams - The Beacon


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By: Michael

SIM Swapping Scams

Your BBB® has learned of a type of scam occurring. We wanted to make our readers aware that if your phone stops working, it could just be your battery, or something much more sinister. “SIM swapping” involves changing the small, removable chip in most phones that contains network and billing information. Thieves can not only disable your mobile phone, but they can also activate a new phone or phones on your account, using your phone number. Identity thieves can convince your wireless provider that they are you, and then use your account to purchase high end smartphones and send you the bill. “SIM swapping” is growing in popularity, with identity theft complaints involving new wireless accounts increasing to 6.3% or one out of every 16 since December 2015.

Identity Theft Statistics (PDF)

“SIM swap” fraud is a two-step process. First, identity thieves gather the information they need to convince your wireless provider that they are you. This information can include your name, Social Security Number, street address, and the name of your wireless provider. This information can be gathered either from a legitimate-looking phishing email, or by calling you and impersonating your mobile provider and asking you a series of questions.

Much of this information is also available for sale on online black markets.

After identity thieves obtain your information, they create a falsified document such as a driver’s license and head to your wireless provider’s retail store. Once there, the thieves will claim that they lost “their” phone or damaged “their” SIM card and that it needs to be replaced. After answering a few questions and providing falsified documents, fraudsters pick out a new phone or phones, and your actual phone will stop working immediately. After charging the new phone to your account, phones are sold for cash. Some take the “SIM swap” fraud further by receiving text messages sent to the phone numbers to bypass bank security and hack into bank accounts.

Once logged in, they can transfer funds out of the accounts. Learn more including how to protect yourself against identity theft at

Use their identity theft affidavit when filing a police report. The affidavit is also useful if devices are charged to your wireless account, or if money is stolen from your bank account. File a police report at your local police station.


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Michael is our Business Information Specialist and will be writing at least one article per week for the consumer education blog. He works with accredited businesses to ensure we maintain current contact information and licensing. He is usually first to answer the phone; so odds are good you will be speaking with him when calling our office.