SIM hijacking is on the rise in Australia. It can happen right in the palm of your hand and within seconds. Learn the signs so you can act fast to keep your identity, accounts and passwords safe.
6 top tips to protect yourself.
Use strong and different passwords for every
online service you use
What’s on a SIM?
Your SIM card in your mobile phone holds lots of valuable information on it – your phone number,
your contact list, your text messages.
It’s a gold mine for hackers. If they can gain access to your SIM card, they may reset your
passwords via text messages since your phone number is usually linked to your email, social media
and bank accounts. They then gain complete control of your accounts.
How does it happen?
When you want to move your mobile number to another telecommunications provider, this is called
‘phone porting’ and happens regularly. Essentially you’re moving your phone number over to another provider. By law, telecommunication providers in Australia only need your mobile number and your date of birth to do this. That’s it! You can see how easy it is for criminals to try and dupe the provider over the phone.
‘Illegal phone porting’ happens when criminals pretend to be you and move your number without
your permission or knowledge. With a little snooping on social media accounts, or by stealing your postal mail, criminals can easily find out your mobile number and date of birth. If they’re successful at pretending to be you, before you know it they’ve transferred your phone number to a whole new SIM card and device within minutes.
This may allow them to seize control of all your accounts, emails and bank accounts since SMS verification codes to change passwords can fall into their hands if they’ve got access to your text messages.
Once they’ve reset your passwords, the consequences are huge – financial credit record damage,
unauthorised loans in your name and social media account hacking. Not to mention the time it takes
for you to try to recover your mobile number and accounts again.
Total loss to fraud
Tracey Holmes, a reporter at the ABC, when she received a text message with a PIN code sent by Telstra.
She called Telstra to say she hadn't requested the code. Telstra said it appeared someone had attempted to access her phone account. Tracey received another PIN code, and after calling Telstra again she was told five attempts had been made to access her information. After hanging up from that call, Tracey's mobile phone went to SOS mode and she couldn't make any further calls. She called Telstra from an office phone, and they confirmed her mobile phone number had been transferred to another provider. "They said there was nothing they could do."
Tracey posted a video on Facebook that went viral and as many similar stories emerged. See what happened to her at ABC 7.30 Report
Total loss to fraud
$500 was taken from Candy's Westpac account with a cardless cash transaction, where an ATM withdrawal can be made using only a one-time pass code sent to a mobile phone.
The criminals also took $1,300 as a direct debit transaction.
"I was afraid that after four times, my phone number could be swiped again." Candy lost control of her phone four times in 13 months because of un-authorised porting. She eventually changed her phone number but Vodafone tried to charge her $40 for this. And then an un-authorised port happened again. "Vodafone suggested I put the mobile account into a different name but I have no one to do that for me. I don't think it's fair that I have to hide my identity."
Model used for photo
Total loss to fraud
Communication Workers Union
"My friend's Facebook account was hacked and I received a message I thought was from him asking for my bank details.
The previous day I'd filled out paperwork to refinance my house. I'd had to put someone down as a referee, so it just sort of added up and made sense.
Suddenly, my phone reception turned to SOS only and I received a message that 'my porting' would take a few hours. In the following weeks, the scammer accessed my bank accounts, transferred money from my home loan account into a newly created savings account, set up a global currency card to put money on an increased my credit card limit."