SIM Card Swap Scam

What is SIM Card Swap Scam?

This isn’t a new type of fraud but up until recently it hasn’t been reported in Ireland. SIM Card Swap Scam is when criminals dupe a mobile service provider into assigning a mobile number to a new sim. The legitimate holder of the mobile account will see their service drop after the criminals have taken control of their number and will only discover that they have been targeted after they contact their mobile service provider.

How can they do this?

Unlike Phishing were the fraudster targets you directly, with SIM Card Swap they first contact your mobile phone service provider pretending to be you and attempt to trick them into swapping your phone number onto a card controlled by them. Once they get your number assigned to their SIM card; they can divert calls and intercept texts, effectively locking you out of your own network. Fraudsters use this type of scam when they already have access to your online banking but can’t transfer money out of your account. This is because many banks require two step authentications, before allowing any money transfers. This is normally a code that is send to your mobile number, that of course the fraudsters now control. This scam is often used in conjunction with phishing attacks that allow them access to your banking details, in the first place. To date there has only been one report of this type of scam in Ireland. In early March a man discovered that the signal had dropped on his phone. When he contacted his provider, he was told that a SIM swap had been carried out via live chat. After the phone signal was restored to his own SIM, he discovered a text message on his phone informing him that his application for a €7,000 loan had been approved. He also discovered that there were several attempts to withdraw money from his bank account during the signal drop. Luckily none of the attempts to withdraw money from his account proved successful, however this type of scam has yielded results for fraudsters in other countries.

What should I do if I think my SIM has been swapped. AIB suggest the following:

  • Never disclose any sensitive or personal information such as login details, bank details, passwords or passcodes to any source
  • Never ignore an SMS message alerting you to a pending SIM swap request on your account or if you suddenly cannot make or receive calls or messages. Contact your mobile provider immediately and enquire whether a SIM swap has been processed on your number
  • Protect your mobile device via password (use strong passwords that would not be easy to guess) or biometric security (fingerprint). Where possible, set the screen auto-lock timer to activate after just a few minutes of inactivity
  • Disable automatic connections. Some devices automatically allow connections to available Wi-Fi networks, and Bluetooth devices may connect and transmit data without your knowledge
  • Consider using your manufacturer’s applications which allow you to find and track your device if lost. These applications also give you the option of locking or wiping your phone remotely if required
  • Do not open emails from unknown sources – even if these appear legitimate or authentic and seem to come from your banking institution
  • Never follow a link provided to you in an email to access the Internet Banking site for your banking institution. Instead physically type the address into the browser address bar.

 If you suspect that you have been a victim of SIM swap fraud, contact your mobile provider immediate