Scammers Target Cell Phone Users' Bank Accounts in Porting Scam

Thursday, March 15, 2018 | By Steve Briggs |

Theft by cell phone is a serious problem and it can happen very quickly, even if your phone never leaves your hand.

Using a devious new trick called the “Porting Scam,” hackers gain access to your cell phone number, then call your cell phone service provider to claim your phone is lost.

By providing some facts about you, they convince your mobile phone company to cancel your current phone number and issue a new phone number. The scammer uses the new phone number to drain your bank account. They use your information online to reset passwords with a texting code.

If your phone doesn't work when you try to make a call, get in touch with your cellular service provider as soon as possible to report the possible scam.

Jot down your cell service customer service number and put it on a bulletin board at home or another handy place so you can quickly go to a working phone to call your cell service provider and let them know you have been scammed.

Dan Hendrickson of the Minnesota Better Business Bureau (BBB) says after the scammer steals your cell phone number, it opens the door to all kinds of bad things. The BBB put out a warning about the Porting Scam, which was used recently in the Twin Cities. The Minneapolis BBB says three cases are confirmed.

It may happen when you request a new password for logging into Facebook or a bank account. As you get the new password you have the option to have a code texted to your cell phone. Now, thieves may use intercept and use that information to steal your money.

What can you do? The BBB recommends calling your cell phone company now to set up a four-digit personal ID number that only you will know. Then change all passwords that have a connection to your cell phone.

Your new passwords should eliminate words found in the dictionary. Instead, make codes that have a meaning you can remember like the first letters of the words, “My favorite Food Is Spaghetti…” which becomes MFFIS, then add a date or number that is significant to you like a child or friend's birthday or your childhood phone number.

Adding the four-digit pin doesn’t guarantee your security but it does put another layer of identity protection between you and the scammers.

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