A very common and dangerous form of identity theft are SIM swap attacks. They do take some effort and time to pull off, but it’s not very difficult if the target is using a Verizon, US Mobile, T-Mobile, Tracfone, or AT&T prepaid account. Even a background check can’t help because SIM swap attacks are remote. You don’t have your attacker’s name.
Research from Princeton University found that prepaid accounts were most vulnerable to SIM-swapping attacks. Members of the research team signed up for prepaid accounts, managed to convince customer service staff, and gained control of the devices after successfully bypassing security protocols. The final stage in the process was to disable the network access of these devices remotely.
Not only the users of the above-mentioned carriers would benefit from a deeper awareness of what SIM-swap attacks are. Your device will give you warning signs that you’ve been hit. Here are some ways to find out that you’ve been the victim of one of these attacks.
Unexpected Security Alerts
You might get email alerts or notifications that contact information, PIN numbers, passwords, or other important account data has been changed. Your provider will inform you that there have been attempted logins from unrecognized devices or locations.
Sudden Service Change
A notification that your SIM card or phone number has been activated in a different area is among the first signs of a SIM-swap. You can only hope your provider has enabled security protocols to limit the probability of a successful takeover. Don’t bide your time in responding because you have a person trying to steal your identity. Your chances of mitigating the damage improve if you’re able to react to these service changes quickly.
How to Detect a Successful SIM Swap Attack
So far, we only discussed attempts of an attack. A successful attack is even worse. Once the attacker gets access to your phone number, they can access any personal data, accounts, or applications tied to the number. They can steal your identity in minutes from there. Signs of an ongoing attack:
You get a notification that your email or social media has been hacked. A hacked Twitter account is a surefire way to recognize a SIM swap attack. Change your login details if you can still log in. Get in touch with support immediately.
Another sign is not being able to receive phone calls or send text messages. Your phone has become inert because someone has activated your phone number somewhere else.
Your bank will send you a suspicious activity or fraud alert. However, the hacker will probably catch it before you become aware if your email address and phone number were compromised. Either way, get in touch with your bank if you notice something suspicious or receive an alert.
You Can’t Use Any Apps
A clear sign of identity theft is when you’re suddenly logged out of accounts and applications and unable to log back in. The app and the extent of damage will 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 it’s only happened to one app.
If you suspect this, see if you can sign into your email account and check your text messages. Also check if you’ve missed any notifications of upcoming changes to your password. If you’ve noticed other signs mentioned so far or this is happening to several apps, you may have to reckon with 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!