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How to Prevent Scammers from Stealing Your Phone Number

I'm sorry to be the bearer of bad news, but there's one more security threat you have to worry about: your phone number. If a hacker has access to it, there can be serious privacy issues.

We can suggest ways to help identify fraud attempts that may lead you to disclose your information and tips on how to keep your phone number secure.

Let's start with an example from practice. Last year, some T-Mobile customers, including a CNET employee, received a strange text message:


This is a weird message you get from your mobile service provider can – but it is also an important wake up call. He, text …

Screenshot by Natalie Weinstein / CNET

Alarm, no? Was T-Mobile's text correct or was it a form of phishing – an attempt to get you to visit a malicious website?

It turned out to be the first one, though you should always think twice before you tap or click on one. This link seems to be overly alarming – and you should never personal Enter data if you have not gone directly to a company's website or app.

In this case, however, T-Mobile warned customers of a very real problem: "Port-out fraud," an attempt by hackers to capture your phone number, transfer it to another airline, and then access your bank account.

For example, if a thief can port your number without your knowledge then they can use it to bypass the two-factor authentication at your bank or other financial services provider – because the SMS confirmation will now be at Telephone sent that your number.

Security in Numbers

Although these scams are not necessarily because T-Mobile is limited to T-Mobile (according to a T-Mo FAQ page, "this affects the entire mobile industry"), the operator's security breach [19659013] In 2017, the personal information of millions of people open to customers – hence the recent increase in fraudulent activity.

How can you protect yourself? If you're a T-Mobile customer, be sure to enable port validation, which requires a 6- to 15-digit passcode. Thereafter, T-Mo will not fulfill a port-out requirement unless this passcode is specified. To enable this feature, dial 611 from your phone or call 800-937-8997.

You are now playing:
Please note the following:

To avoid technical support fraud


It's worth noting that the new passcode will not replace your existing T-Mobile PIN or password. It is a second level of security. The company also recommends "checking with your bank to see if there is an alternative to using PIN text authentication, such as e-mail."

CNET recommends avoid SMS for 2-step verification . A better option is an authentication app.

Use a password manager while playing to generate strong passwords and track the various PINs and passwords used by your bank, telephone company, and other key services.

Another tip: give your regular number to your friends, family members and banks. For everything else, use a "one-way" number provided by Google Voice and Textfree. Although this second number could still be stolen by hackers, it is not tied to business critical issues.

Do you have other recommendations to avoid port-out scams? Share it in the comments!

Originally published on February 17, 2018.
Update dated April 29, 2019: Various Minor Updates.

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