What is SIM Jacking?
Also know as SIM Hijacking or SIM Swapping Scams
What is SIM Jacking?
SIM Jacking are a type of identify theft where a scammer, utilising your personal information, convinces your mobile phone telco provider to assign your phone number to a new SIM card under the scammers control.
What is a SIM Card?
SIM (subscriber identity module) cards are the small, removable chip card that is inserted into devices such as mobile phones and tablets. Each SIM card is unique as it is associated with one mobile number. If you remove one SIM card and place it into a different device, all the information stored on the SIM card will be accessible on the new device. At times, you may need to get a new SIM card however you can choose to have your phone number transferred to the new SIM card.
How does SIM Jacking happen?
Once the scammer has your personal information, they may contact your telco provider and impersonate you. The scammer may claim that your phone has been stolen, lost or broken. They may claim that you have a new SIM card to activate and your want to keep your old phone number. Scammers can be incredibly convincing and can make the telco provider believe that they are truly helping you.
Once your phone number has been ported to the new SIM card under the control of the Scammer, they will receive all calls and text messages meant for you. They will also have access to all the information stored on your SIM card.
Once the Scammer is able to view your new text messages, they will be able to bypass two-step verification protections that you may have set up on banking, social media, email or online accounts. The Scammer will be able to utilise the “forgot password” function on online accounts as they will be able to view the code sent to your mobile phone.
The Scammer may steal your contact list and target them with phishing scams in hopes of tricking your friends and family into disclosing personal information.
How do you know your SIM has been swapped?
- You receive an unexpected text message from your telco provider stating you have requested your phone number is ported to a different telco provider
- Your mobile phone service is suddenly disconnected and may display “SOS only”. The mobile service does not return after some time or after restarting the phone.
What to do if you suspect your SIM card has been compromised?
If you are concerned you are the victim of a SIM jacking scam or that your SIM card has been compromised, we encourage you to contact your telco provider immediately.
We then recommend that your contact your financial providers to inform them of your concerns and they can put a hold on your accounts. They can also notify you of any suspicious transactions on your accounts.
You may need to report the incident to the Policelink on 131 444 as well as the Australian Cyber Security Centre on 1300 292 371.
How to protect yourself
In order to be able to attempt a SIM Jacking scam, the Scammer needs to have your personal information such as name, date of birth, phone number, address and email. They may need information such as the name of your telecommunications provider and account number – this could be gathered from your emails or post. This is why the biggest thing you can do to protect yourself from scams is to protect your personal information. We have an article on how to protect your personal information which can be found here.
As a precaution, we encourage you to set up a PIN or a password with your telecommunications provider. Make the PIN or password difficult to guess and do not share it with anyone.