We remember to lock our house and car before leaving them, but how security conscious are we when it comes to locking our mobile phones?
Take a minute to stop and think about what’s on your phone and what you use it for… SMS, emails, photos, personal memos, internet browsing, social networking, storing passwords. Now imagine if overnight all of that information disappeared, your bank balance vanished, and suddenly you were left with a bad credit rating and mountains of paperwork to re-establish your identity. This is a real threat – and actually happened to “Steve” (not his real name) a couple of months ago.
Steve was using his mobile phone to access Facebook on the train when his news feed stopped loading. He checked his internet settings and looked at his coverage, but everything looked fine, so dismissing it as an intermittent fault he didn’t think anything more of it… until his wife called him on his desk phone asking him why he wasn’t responding to an urgent SMS. Steve called his service provider for help and was told that their records showed he’d switched his phone number to another carrier that very morning – which explained why his phone’s SIM would no longer work.
Later that day, when Steve checked his internet banking, he discovered that the cash he had saved for his overseas holiday had been withdrawn from his account. When he contacted his bank, he was told that their records indicated he had authorised the transaction via a security code sent via SMS to his mobile.
This was when alarm bells started ringing in Steve’s head!
Steve immediately contacted his local police and an investigation was launched. It was determined that Steve had been the victim of identity fraud using unauthorised SIM porting. The crooks had obtained pieces of Steve’s identity information over time, and the last piece of the puzzle they needed was his mobile number. Once the crooks had this, they were able to set up their scam with precision timing: firstly porting his SIM card to another telco provider, applying to transfer funds from Steve’s account to their bank account, and then using the security ‘two factor authentication code’ sent via SMS by his bank to deceptively authorise the money transfer… all done without ever tipping off Steve because the crime was committed during the time his mobile service was ported and before he had time to raise any concerns.
As fraud victim stories go, Steve’s tale isn’t unusual. Steve thought he was doing all the right things to protect himself from scammers. But it just goes to show, although most people don’t fall victim, ID fraud can happen to anyone.
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