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Mobile Porting/SIM Swapping

What is mobile porting/Sim swapping?

It’ the process of changing your mobile phone number over to a new carrier and it's a process that's designed to be quick, easy and free of charge.

What is unauthorised mobile porting/SIM swapping?

Unauthorised mobile porting/SIM swapping is when criminals attempt to gain ownership of mobile numbers in order to access online accounts such banking, email, superannuation, and government portals such as MyGov etc. Criminals do this in order to gain access to SMS codes (2-step verification) that we often have sent to our mobiles.


How SIM swap fraud works?

Cybercriminals will gather information by trawling the web and searching for data about the potential victim may have been (over)shared. The victim’s personal information can also be gleaned from known data breaches or leaks, or via social engineering techniques, such as phishing and vishing, where the fraudster wheedles the information directly out of the target.

When enough information is on hand, the fraudster will contact the target’s mobile phone provider and trick its customer service representative into porting the telephone number to a SIM card owned by the criminal. More often than not, the scammer’s story will be something along the lines of the switch is needed due to the phone being stolen or lost.

Once the process is done, the victim will lose access to the cellular network and phone number. The hacker will now receive the victim’s calls and text messages containing password reset/verification codes (often referred to as 2SA or 2FA). This gives them access to your existing online accounts - banking and email accounts are major targets for such attacks.


How to detect the scam?

A typical indicator of an Unauthorised Port/SIM Swap is the loss of phone coverage or reception of the affected mobile phone. SOS in this instance means that your network provider is no longer providing service to your device. Other common indicators in addition to your phone SOS display includes being locked out of accounts such as Internet banking, emails, or other services that rely on password reset/verification codes.

If you receive a text from your mobile provider (or another telco) that your number is about to be ported, respond ASAP to the company who have sent the text as you may be able to stop the port.


How to protect yourself?

  • Consider downloading you banking App onto your mobile device. Most bank Apps provide the ability to temporarily freeze your debit/credit cards.
  • See if your financial institution will provide you with a ‘token’ (a two-step authentication device) replacing the need to use your mobile number for security codes.
  • Make a list of accounts that send text messages to your mobile for security purposes. In the event of a port you will know which accounts to temporarily deactivate the affected number.
  • Do not treat your email account as data storage – periodically clean out your emails (inbox/ outbox/sent and other folders).
  • Never provide personal details over the phone to unsolicited callers.
  • Do not click on links in emails or text messages until you verify validity.


How to respond to the scam?

  • Freeze your online banking App or call your financial institution(s) immediately and alert them of the risk.
  • Temporarily disable SMS as a password reset/verification code recovery method (or temporarily change the number) for online accounts. Start with your email account.
  • Contact your telecommunication provider and find out if your number has been ported to another provider or if there has been a fraudulent SIM Swap.
  • If the number was ported, request your telco to submit a ‘reversal of an unauthorised port’.
  • If you experienced a SIM Swap tell your provider to shut down the active SIM and provide you with a replacement SIM, then tighten security as a prevention.





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