New cell phone scam allows access to financial, personal records - KBJR 6 Your Weather Authority: News, Weather & Sports

New cell phone scam allows access to financial, personal records

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The BBB says a new scam happening around the country has now popped up in the Twin Cities, and allows scammers to steal not only your identity, but also money from your bank accounts.

The scam, which is referred to as a cellphone porting or port-out scam, uses your safety protocols to gain access to financial and personal accounts, as well as logins.

A scammer gets a hold of your name and phone number, and then attempts to gather as much personal identifiable information as they can about you, including your address, Social Security number, birthday, and other information used for identity theft, including where you bank.

Then, scammers contact your mobile provider, pretending to be you, and inform them your phone was stolen, and request the number be ported over to another provider and device.

Scammers may even try to buy a brand-new phone, which would give a sales associate enough assurance to fulfill the request and forgo some formal verification procedures.

Once your number has been ported to a new device, they can start accessing and gaining entry to accounts which require additional authorization, such as a code being sent to your phone.

Codes sent by text are usually in place on accounts provided by email providers, social networks, tax preparation software, and other financial institutions.

Victims of port-out scams may be unaware of this until they notice their phone has lost service, or receive unexpected text messages containing account authentication or access codes. 

The BBB has offered the following tips to help protect yourself from scammers:

  • Talk to your cellphone provider about port-out authorization. Every major wireless provider has some sort of additional security for accounts or for port-out authorization that customers can set up, like a unique pin, or adding a verification question, which will make it more difficult for someone to port-out your phone. Contact your mobile provider and speak to them specifically about porting and/or port-out security on your account.
  • Watch out for unexpected "Emergency Calls Only" status. Call your wireless provider if your phone suddenly switches to "emergency call service only" or something similar. That's what happens when your phone number has been transferred to another phone. Contact the police and your financial institutions as well. 
  • Be vigilant about communications you receive.  Watch out for phishing attempts, alert messages from financial institutions, and unexpected texts in response to two-factor authentication requests you didn't initiate.
  • If you've fallen victim to this type of scam, BBB encourages you to take steps to recover your identity. It's also a good idea to file a report on BBB ScamTracker and help get word of this scam out to others.
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