SIM Swap Fraud – what it is and how to avoid it

A 90s technology has stood the test of time – for better or for worse

The early 1990s was a time of boy bands, neon windbreakers and flat top haircuts. It was also the start of the dotcom boom, with the invention of the World Wide Web and the explosion in the adoption and use of internet technologies. Among those rising stars was the Subscriber Identity Module, better known as the SIM card. The introduction of the SIM card revolutionized the telecommunications industry. This tiny piece of technology was an easily removable, portable memory chip that acted as the brain of a mobile device.

SIM cards may not be widely acknowledged as a revolutionary technology any longer, but they are indirectly an important component in keeping your personal data safe. In fact, that one tiny microchip can serve as a crucial link for fraudsters to leverage as a means of denying unwitting individuals’ access to their cellphone, draining their bank accounts, or running up illicit credit card charges through fraudulent purchases.

SIM swap fraud: A case of imitated identity

What is SIM swap fraud? At a high level, SIM swap fraud involves bad actors using personal data to transfer victims’ cellphone numbers to the attackers’ own SIM cards in order to gain access to incoming calls, text messages, and security prompts. Bad actors can then use this SIM swap to gain access to communications that should have gone to the victim. But how is that even possible? Let’s break down how SIM swap fraud works. To start, scammers gather some personal information about their victim by either buying it off the dark web or scraping public information on social media sites. To make sure they have the right information they may even contact the victim directly with an excuse. Next, the fraudster will call the victim’s mobile carrier, impersonating them and claiming they have lost or damaged their SIM card. They then ask for a new SIM card to be activated, and voilà: the fraudster has unlocked the portal to a treasure trove of information about the victim and their contacts.

Now you may be asking, how can fraudsters fill out my information or answer my security questions? That’s where the data they’ve…