Port Fraud – A True Story

  • Published: Wednesday, March 4, 2020

My niece recently made an out of state move for her career. Imagine all of the details that need to be attended to—change of address, selling of real estate, moving furniture and closing local accounts. Then on the other end it is finding a place to live, opening new accounts, transferring direct deposit information and becoming familiar with new surroundings.

One morning she discovered that her phone no longer functioned. She contacted her provider who told her that her phone number had been ported over to a new service and her account was closed down. She was able to convince the provider that she did not request this change. They quickly restored her service. Fortunately, since she acted on this very quickly she was able to thwart the attempt to steal her money.

What happened next is that she received a text from her bank asking her to confirm a transfer of $900 from her account to another. She did not authorize it. Then she contacted the bank to let them know what was going on and that no activity on any of her accounts is to take place.

If she had not gotten her number ported back to her carrier the text message from the bank would have gone to the crook who would then have authorized the money transfer.

The crooks had access to her email account as well. They knew her birth date and other personal information. How they got all of this is unclear but they had enough information that they were able to carry out their scheme.

Of course, my niece admitted to me that her password was not very strong and she used the same password for multiple sites. She posts too much person detail on social media sites. Likely these were some contributing factors.

Port Fraud is a real thing. Service providers need to take precautions to help protect us from identity theft. Fortunately, my niece did not suffer any damage from this activity, but it caused quite a disruption in her life. 

Resources:

New scam uses your phone number to steal your online identity

How to prevent and respond to a SIM swap scam