News Article

How to spot the SIM splitting scam

Published 6 May 2017 by

It's likely that you take your phone everywhere with you. You might use it to keep in contact with your family, update your social media profile or video message a friend.

It would probably be a big inconvenience then if your phone suddenly stopped working. However, sometimes a technical glitch can have more to do with a fraudster than a dodgy mobile battery.

Fraudsters are using a scam called SIM splitting – also known as SIM swap – to take control of a victim's mobile phone and steal money from their bank account. To make sure you don't fall for a scam like this, we're taking you through how to spot it. 

The scam

The first thing a fraudster will do is try to get as much information on you as they can. This can mean stealing your post, using your social media profiles, or tricking you into installing malware.

Once they have this information, the fraudster will call your mobile phone provider and tell them that your mobile is lost or stolen. They will use the information they've collected on you to answer basic security questions.

The mobile phone provider will then cancel the old sim and activate a new one. The fraudster might also ask for calls or texts to divert to a new phone. The first sign of this scam is when the victim's mobile phone stops working.

Fraudsters use the information they've collected to hack into your online banking and open a business account. There are less security checks as the new business account is already in your name.

The scammer then starts to transfer money to accounts they control. If the bank calls or texts to see if the payment is genuine, the fraudster simply pretends to be the victim and makes sure the payment goes through.

How to protect yourself

It's important that you know how to protect yourself from a scam like this. Remember, the following tips.

• Make sure you have suitable anti-virus software installed on your devices.

• Disconnect from the internet immediately if you discover a virus on your computer. You should seek expert advice.

• Be careful what you download. Do not open files or click on links from websites or people you don't know.

• Create strong passwords with a combination of number and symbols – you can find out how to create a strong password in our blog. 

• Try not to use the same password multiple times – it could cost you.

Be cautious of giving out information on social media such as your date of birth, your first pet, or school. A fraudster could use these to answer traditional security questions to reset your password.

You should notify your bank immediately if you realise that your bank account details are compromised.

You can report a scam like this to Action Fraud using their online reporting tool.

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