It is an alarming fact that mobile devices are the start of around 60% of cyber-attacks in the world. The reason is that it is very easy for scammers to obtain your phone numbers (Sometimes the number giver is even yourself). If they get your numbers, they can carry out many fraudulent activities such as sending phishing messages, tricking you into installing malware, stealing your personal information to access your financial accounts, and so on. These fraudulent activities may even cost you a lifetime of wealth.
Therefore, let’s take a look at how scammers get your phone numbers, how you can protect your numbers, and what you can do to minimize your losses if your phone numbers have unfortunately been got by scammers.
How do Scammers Get Your Phone Numbers?
To avoid scammers using your personal information for their benefit, it is important to first understand the threats you face. Let’s list a few common ways that scammers steal your phone numbers below.
Public USB Charging Ports
When plugging into a USB charging for a quick charge in a public place such as a coffee shop or airport, if you share it with other people who are plugging in their devices, you can be vulnerable to viruses or malware that can easily access your personal information including phone numbers.
Scammers can use unsecured wireless networks and software vulnerabilities to target your phone numbers.
Ubiquitous Street Questionnaires
We often encounter people on the street asking to fill out surveys and they ask for contact information. Thus, scammers are likely to use this as a way to get your phone numbers and steal your privacy.
Unintentional Online Registration
In this age of advanced internet technology, you will need phone numbers to register for a shopping website or software application. If you fill in your number on an irregular website, your number will be likely leaked out.
Inconspicuous Courier Slip
Whenever you receive a courier, many people simply throw away the courier with your name and phone number on it, which may also lead to the leakage of your phone numbers.
Information Left on Old Mobile Phones
Although old phones are usually formatted before being sold out (that’s common sense), many criminals will use some technology to recover your phone numbers and personal information and then sell them out at a high price. The scammers will steal your phone numbers in this way.
What Can Scammers Do with Your Phone Number?
Scammers can potentially exploit your phone number in various ways to gain unauthorized access or carry out malicious activities. Here are some of the things scammers can do with your phone number:
SIM Card Swap/Porting
Scammers can contact your mobile service provider and impersonate you to request a SIM card swap or porting of your phone number to a new device. Once they have control of your phone number, they can intercept calls, text messages, and verification codes, allowing them to gain unauthorized access to your accounts, including social media, email, and financial accounts.
With access to your phone number, scammers can attempt to gather additional personal information about you through social engineering or by exploiting weaknesses in online platforms. This information can be used for identity theft, such as opening fraudulent accounts or conducting unauthorized financial transactions.
Many online services use phone numbers for two-factor authentication (2FA) or password recovery. By compromising your phone number, scammers can intercept 2FA codes or reset passwords, gaining unauthorized access to your accounts. This can include email accounts, social media profiles, banking accounts, and other sensitive online services.
Scammers may use your phone number as part of phishing attacks. They can send text messages or make phone calls pretending to be a trusted entity, such as a bank or service provider, in an attempt to trick you into providing sensitive information or clicking on malicious links.
Spam and Unsolicited Calls
Scammers may sell or use your phone number to send spam messages or make unsolicited calls, which can be annoying and potentially expose you to additional scams or fraudulent activities.
How to Prevent Phone Numbers from Scammers?
Though scammers can easily obtain your phone numbers, you can avoid leaking your numbers by doing the following.
Avoid Clicking on Links from Unknown Sources
When you receive a text or email from an unknown sender, do not click on it no matter how attractive the texts sound. Ensuring that the sender’s information is reliable is a vital point to avoid leaking your phone numbers.
Be Strongly Wary of Phone Scams
When you encounter an unknown number that asks for your personal information, asks you to pay or requires you to call back, do not do so casually.
Install Appropriate Anti-fraud Software
You can use an anti-unwanted-calls application on your mobile to stop you from being scammed via voice or text. RealCall, for example, is an application that lets all types of scam calls nowhere to hide. No matter what type of suspicious calls you receive, they will always help you identify and reject them. What’s more, thanks to the real-time updated database and custom block rules, you no longer miss any calls from official or important sources like schools, hospitals, etc.
Keep Your Phone Safe in Public
As well as keeping your phone in sight and fingerprinted in public, you should also be wary of public Wi-Fi, USB, and other avenues.
Double Check Website
A useful tip for identifying scams is that they always create fake websites by changing a letter or number in the URL of a web page.
Eliminate Personal Information from Items
Items including old mobile phones, documents, and courier receipts may contain your phone numbers. Therefore, it is vital not to throw them away until they have been eliminated.
How to Minimize Your Losses if Your Phone Number Has been Got by Scammers?
If you already know that scammers have stolen your phone numbers (because you always receive unwanted calls from unknown numbers), you can take the following steps to minimize your losses.
Inform the People Around You
Probably scammers may pose as you to scam your friends and family. Thus, please tell them right now that your phone number has been stolen and it may be abused.
Contact Your Service Provider
You need to tell the appropriate mobile service provider that your account has been hacked and request a second password for the account login to prevent scammers from gaining illegal access.
Change the Relevant Security Question
You should change the security questions on any of your online accounts to prevent them from being compromised as well.
Keep Your Social Circle Small.
Try not to give out your phone number randomly to new people. This will limit the targeting range of scammers.
Check Your Bank Statements Regularly
If you notice unexplained charges on your statements, contact the authorities immediately to trace the scammers.
- If they get your numbers, they can carry out many fraudulent activities such as sending phishing messages, tricking you into installing malware, stealing your personal information to access your financial accounts, and so on.
- These fraudulent activities may even cost you a lifetime of wealth.
- To avoid scammers using your personal information for their benefit, it is important to first understand the threats you face.
- RealCall, for example, is an application that lets all types of scam calls nowhere to hide. No matter what type of suspicious calls you receive, they will always help you identify and reject them.
- If you already know that scammers have stolen your phone numbers, you can take the following steps to minimize your losses.