A very common and dangerous form of identity theft is SIM swap attacks. They are tedious and time-consuming, but not very difficult if the target uses a prepaid account from Verizon, US Mobile, T-Mobile, Tracfone, or AT &T. Even a background check can not help because SIM swap attacks are done remotely. You do not know the name of your attacker.
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Research from Princeton University has found that prepaid accounts are most vulnerable to SIM – swapping attacks. Members of the research team signed up for prepaid accounts, managed to convince customer service representatives, and gained control of the devices after successfully bypassing security protocols. The final stage of the process was to remotely disable network access to these devices.
Not only users of the above vendors would benefit from a deeper awareness of what SIM -swap attacks are. Your device will give you warning signs that you have been attacked. Here are some ways to find out if you have fallen victim to one of these attacks.
Unexpected Security Alerts
You may receive email alerts or notifications that contact information, PIN numbers, passwords or other important account information has been changed. Your provider informs you that attempts have been made to log in from unrecognized devices or locations.
Sudden Service Change
A notification that your SIM card or phone number has been activated in another area is one of the first signs of a SIM -swap. You can only hope that your provider has security protocols in place to reduce the likelihood of a successful takeover. Do not wait to react, because there is a person out there trying to steal your identity. Your chances of mitigation increase if you can respond quickly to these service changes.
How to Detect a Successful SIM Swap Attack
So far we have only talked about an attempted attack. A successful attack is even worse. Once the attacker has access to your phone number, they can access any personal data, accounts or applications associated with the number. From there, they can steal your identity within minutes. Signs of an ongoing attack:
You receive a notification that your email or social media has been hacked. A hacked Twitter account is a surefire sign of a SIM swap attack. Change your credentials if you can still log in. Contact support immediately.
Another sign is that you can not receive calls or send text messages. Your phone has become inactive because someone activated your phone number somewhere else.
Unauthorized Financial Activity
Your bank will send you a suspicious or fraud alert. However, if your email address and phone number have been compromised, the hacker will likely notice the fraud before you do. In any case, you should contact your bank if you notice anything suspicious or receive a warning.
You Can’t Use Any Apps
A clear sign of identity theft is when you are suddenly logged out of accounts and apps and can no longer log in. The app and the extent of the damage determine the severity of the attack. The company may have changed your password on your behalf in response to suspicious activity or a data breach if only one app is affected.
If you suspect this, see if you can log into your email account and check your text messages. Also, check if you have missed notifications about upcoming password changes. If you have noticed other signs mentioned so far or this is the case with multiple apps, you might have to face major security issues or a full-blown SIM swap attack.
Preventing a Swap Attack
Keep your phone in a safe place and don’t give away personal information. You never know who could get their hands on it!