The 31 Forms of Identity Theft – Cell Phone Fraud – Existing Account Takeover

#7 Cell Phone Fraud – Existing Account Takeover

Your phone represents a massive risk to your personal privacy and your identity, hackers figured out how to hijack cell phones and steal the valuable information contained in them. Culprits go after emails, photographs, and infiltrate apps to commit larger crimes like blackmail, fraud, and theft. All this is accomplished with just a phone number.

How it works

The criminal contacts the cell phone service provider being used by the victim and requests a transfer of service from an old phone to a new one. They then provide the cell phone company with the last four digits of the victim’s Social Security number and a fake ID. If they don’t have this information, they may come up with a convincing story about losing or damaging a phone, and then they make it seem plausible by providing the address, date of birth, and other information about the victim that is easily available on the Internet. When convinced to do so, the company may port the victim’s telephone number to a new device that the criminal now uses to achieve complete control over the victim’s telephonic life. The victim’s phone in hand stops working

With full access to the victim’s “new” phone — and the information on it — the criminal can now reset the passwords on every account that uses the phone number for auto recovery or dual authentication.

The victim’s phone may also be used by the criminal to hack into other aspects of the victim’s life. With access to payment apps, emails, photographs, financial sites, and other sensitive data, the criminal can use it to steal money or blackmail and threaten the victim. Even sites that use two-factor authentication may now be accessed. When credit card companies and banks see a red flag in spending habits, they may call the customer’s number. However, the call may go to the criminal. In the case of an email, the criminal may have changed the email password, leaving the victim unable to sign in to his or her own account.

The threat of having someone take over your cell phone account to make off with an upgraded phone is an increasing threat to consumers. In just three years, the FTC had reported that the number of cell phone account takeover incidents had increased by a staggering 97%.

Credit monitoring will not alert you to this type of fraud.

 LibertyID will take the following steps for/with their members:

  • Contact the cell phone provider to address and correct the issue
  • Place fraud alerts at all three credit reporting agencies
  • Place credit freezes at all three credit reporting agencies, if appropriate
  • File report with FTC
  • If their identity theft involved the use of your driver’s license number, Social Security Number, or another type of identification, will we contact the relevant agencies to notify them of the theft
  • Review credit reports with the victim to ensure there is no other types of fraud
  • Provide single bureau credit monitoring with alerts for 12 months
  • LibertyID will ensure that the restoration is completed with the victim
  • Periodically contact the member throughout the 12 months following resolution of their ID theft recovery case, if warranted