What Is SIM Swapping, and Can It Happen to You?

Statistically, individuals are at high risk of becoming victims of cybercrime. Whether it be as a result of identity theft, data compromises, cyberattacks or phishing scams, more than 1 in 3 people are targeted by scams, and nearly half of Americans have experienced identity theft since the pandemic.

One of the less talked about cybercrimes that impact Americans is SIM swapping. According to the latest data from the FBI, SIM swapping resulted in losses of more than $68 million in 2021. Due to the nature of what happens when a SIM swap scam occurs, the financial loss from SIM swapping can be swift and can immediately impact you as an individual.

Follow the link to read about a recent SIM swapping case we saw with one of our clients: Client loses $50,000 in 20 minutes.

A SIM swapping event can result in criminals gaining access to any account you have connected to your phone number (such as those that use two-factor authentication), ultimately allowing them to reset passwords and gain access to your online accounts, including targeting your banking and investment accounts.

How Does SIM Swapping Work?

SIM swapping is when a bad actor uses social engineering, social scraping or other methods to obtain information about you. Once they collect enough information to impersonate you with your phone provider, they convince your phone provider to port your phone number or mobile service to a new SIM card.

This disables your device and allows the bad actor to impersonate you through your phone number, which then allows them to reset user passwords, access your bank accounts or other accounts (which you previously secured with two-factor authentication) and commit various forms of fraud, including funds transfers.

Signs You May Be a Victim of a SIM Swapping Scam

  • Your phone suddenly stops working, loses network connection, can not make calls, send or receive text messages or only works on Wi-Fi.
  • You may receive a text message telling you that your service is about to be switched to another provider. You may think that it’s a fraudulent text and disregard it. However, call your phone provider immediately if you receive a text like that.
  • Any suspicious activity or lack of the ability to use your phone should be a sign to contact your phone provider (and if you have a personal cyber policy, like DigitalShield, you can also get in touch with the personal cyber concierge services to help you).

Best Practices to Protect Yourself from Becoming a Victim of SIM Swapping

  • Beware of phishing emails or third-party-initiated calls where someone (or a company) asks you to provide personal information or log into accounts.
  • Don’t publish your phone number on social media sites or profiles.
  • Be cautious when sharing information online, such as your birthday, hometown or pet names.
  • Be vigilant when filling out those online quizzes that ask you to provide personal facts about yourself, your favorite things and your history. This is just one example of how fraudsters can trick you into giving them the information they need.
  • Use unique passwords, learn how to create strong passwords and never leave the default password on Wi-Fi-connected devices or your router.

How NFP Can Help

Whether you experience SIM swapping, a full-blown ransomware attack or other cyber or privacy events, our team is dedicated to working with you to provide proactive support. In the event of a claim, achieve a fast, equitable resolution to the most complex scenarios.

Learn how our Personal Cyber Insurance team can help protect you and your family from online threats.

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