Thieves Can Now Steal Your Identity Using Your Personal Cell Phone Number

Your personal cell phone number can be stolen, and your number ported to another phone and another carrier. And since that personal cell phone number is probably on all your accounts, from social media accounts to financial accounts, then the new owner of your number may be able to access these sites, then change your passwords. Just like that. dYour identity is stolen.

It’s all part of a growing scam. A woman in the Dallas area tells the story of having her number stolen three times. One day the cell phone used for her cleaning business just stopped working. She called her carrier, T-Mobile, and learned that someone pretending to be her ported her number to a Verizon account and a burner phone. And the carriers’ only answer is, “We are just doing what you told us to do.” It took hours to get it all sorted out. That same day her husband’s business cell phone had the same thing happen, and then the next day, it all happened again. Three times, same family. Her response, “With millions and millions of phone numbers out there, what are the odds that two of my family’s numbers are hit three times in a week?”

When crooks steal your phone number, they also steal your identity. Certainly they can run up your cell phone bill, but they can also connect to other entities, like your bank, as you. According to the Federal Trade Commission, the cases are increasing rapidly each year. In 2013, there were 1,028 cases reported, and by 2016 there were 2,658 cases.

More good tech tips from our “Let Me Help You” series

Here’s what you can do to prevent this from happening to you:

◊ Make sure your account has a pin number or password and ask your carrier to refuse any changes without it.

◊ If someone calls asking you strange or too-personal questions, just hang up.

◊ When you change or upgrade your phone, don’t just throw away the old one. Be sure to get your information off of it first.

If you have questions about cell phone danger, please don’t hesitate to reach out to us here at Aptica LLC. Let’s all stay safe.

Jason Newburg, 260.243.5100, ext 2001, is the founder and owner of Aptica LLC. This IT management and support company has been serving small to medium-sized businesses for 15 years in the area that includes Angola,  South Bend, and Fort Wayne, IN, Battle Creek, MI, and Toledo, OH.

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