Cell Phone Hijacking

Cell Phone Hijacking

Hackers have figured out a way to hijack cell phones and steal the valuable information contained in them. Culprits are going after emails and payment apps to commit larger crimes like fraud and theft. All this is accomplished with just a phone number and social engineering.

This scam involves identity thieves using your personal information to open a new cell phone account in your name or take your existing cell phone number and transfer it to a fake account. This is known as "porting". The thief tricks you cell phone carrier into transferring or porting your phone number to a cell phone that the thief controls.

Most people are not aware, but your personal information is widely available to criminals online. They can obtain it from a number of different sources, including what you share on social media.

How it Works

The criminal obtains your cell phone number and contacts the cell phone provider of the victim. The criminal requests a transfer of services from an old phone to a new one. The criminal needs to know minimal information about you to successfully steal your phone number….Why? Because phone providers want to make it as easy as possible to switch carrier companies which compromises your security!

With full access to the victims "new" phone—and the information on it—the criminal can now reset the passwords on every account that uses the phone number for auto recovery. They now have access to payment apps, emails, financial sites and other sensitive data and will gain access to steal your money.

Tips on How to Prevent Phone Hijacking

Establish a Personal Identity Number or Password—Mobile phone carriers are aware of this crime and are taking steps to ensure that their customers are taken care of. Most mobile phone carriers now request customers to create a PIN or PW. If not already in place, contact your mobile phone service provider to set one up on your account.

Contact your Cell Phone Provider—Request that they block the transfer of phone numbers from your account as well as the transfer to another carrier. Request that these transactions can only be completed if you are to go in and sign in person.

Phone is Inoperable—Be wary of your phone not working or not being able to access your emails, your phone receives a "no signal" or "emergency calls only". Use another phone to contact your phone carrier provider and have them check the status immediately.

Beware of Phishing Scams—You should always be wary of suspicious texts, emails or phone calls from anyone stating they are from your financial institution, credit card company or cell-phone carrier. Phone hijacking can also happen via phishing attacks. Do not click on suspicious links. Malware embedded in links can secretly download on your device.

Safeguard Your Personal Information—Be careful about sharing your personal information such as your phone number, date of birth, your first car, name of your pets or your maiden name—Do not publish them on social media. This information is all that the criminal may need to hijack your phone!

CUDGC