Phone number hijacking is a new way for thieves to steal cell phones from you. They don’t need to each into your pocket at a shopping mall or steal directly. Instead, they go through your cell phone carrier and that carrier’s online store.
They order a phone through your account, and you end up getting the bill. They will target expensive cell phones they can get for free and then resell. Worse, it can be challenging to prove the con to your cell phone company. Concerned this might happen to you?
Hijacked Phone Number? – Here’s How It Works
If you’ve ever been to a cell phone store or ordered a phone online, you probably needed your account information and password or security code. Often, a personal I.D. card is required. With all of that information, how do scammers and thieves manage this con? The answers are varied but easy enough for a criminal to do.
One way is for criminals to create a fake I.D. card or use an I.D. card that someone lost. The thief then goes into an actual retail store and buys as many expensive phones as possible. The next thing you know, your cell phone is being shut off, and the new phone activated.
You might not even realize what happened until later when you call the cell company. Criminals do this scam from remote locations and may not even live in your geographic state.
But, wait, does this happen? Yes. In 2017, the police in Cleveland, Ohio, found $65k in cell phone theft that had occurred through the use of fake identification cards.
In other cases, criminals get into your account and use the recovery process to reset your PIN. Once they have your PIN, they can get into your account and use that access to acquire new smartphones.
Lastly, online hackers also steal by using the web to hack into a cell phone user’s or company’s account They order all the merchandise they can and have it sent to a location where it will be dropped off, then they pick it up. Although it might sound hard to believe, 12 people running this con cost consumers about $1 million in devices in 2018!
Who Could be a Victim of This Scam?
If you have a cell phone account, you can be a victim of this scam. Even if you don’t have a cell phone, fraudsters who have your information from identity hacking may set up fake accounts with a cell phone carrier, and order stolen merchandise. The same can be done with a fake I.D. or online.
How to Protect Yourself
If you fear your accounts being hacked, make sure to evaluate your online presence. Do your social media pages display answers to any of your security questions? Use Social Catfish to monitor your information.
If you find out someone has stolen cell phones through the use of your account, immediately contact the cell phone company. Tell them the details and that the occurrence was fraudulent.
Have an alert (fraud alert or credit freeze) placed on your credit reports. Update your passwords for all of your accounts and use 2-factor identification. Next, report problems with identity theft to the FTC” s IC3 division online.
Although it is optional, it can help to file a police report if you need proof of the crime for your cell phone company, etc.
The personal information you display online can attract criminals and online thieves. Identity theft can happen to anyone. Be sure to regularly run Social Catfish scans for yourself and your family’s information. Monitor your name, email address, phone number, image, and username at Social Catfish. Keep safe from online criminals, one search at a time!