Yes, if you’ve gotten a recent text alert from T-Mobile, it’s legitimate and thieves could steal your cell phone number if you don’t secure it properly. The company is urging its customers to require a second password to authorize “porting” those ten digits to another carrier, and even customers on other networks should pay attention.
According to T-Mobile, there is an industry-wide port-out scam in progress. TechTimes has noted that, fraudsters trick people by calling carriers and pretending to want to change providers or receive a new SIM card for that phone number.
Why Do Criminals Want Your Number?
No, they aren’t interested in listening to your voicemail. These thieves want access to your bank arrangements or other sensitive relationships that are tied to your phone number such as an Apple ID or Amazon account. Anything linked to your buying power could become a target. If hackers can divert your cell number to a new wireless company, they control it. Any purchase authorization texts or one-time codes sent by a vendor to your compromised cell phone will be intercepted giving the crooks a way to work around this important form of two-step authentication.
Similarly, many credit card issuers and other financial institutions are beginning to offer users the option of two-step or two-factor authorization (2FA) as a way to rein in fraud. Some financial groups even require it. But, if a hacker ports your cell number and you need a text code to access one of your accounts, now you have a thief right in the middle of your finances.
Protect Your Number
To address this port-out scam, T-Mobile and other carriers offer similar options to add an extra layer of security. Mobile customers should call their carrier customer support to set a PIN code or password for port-out permissions. For T-Mobile, dial 611 on your mobile device or call 800-937-8997 to set a unique 6-to-15-digit password.
ID Watchdog recommends using 2FA whenever possible and adding this important level of security for your mobile phone. While no system is foolproof, each cell carrier offers guidelines on account protection, so make sure you take full advantage of any security options at your fingertips.