Cell Porting Scam

You just responded to an email from a friend who asked for your cell phone number, but something doesn’t feel quite right. You check back in with your friend, and she says, “I didn’t send an email.” 

You may soon be a victim of a cell phone porting scam. More details about what that is below, but first, take these steps: 

  1. Contact your wireless provider and tell them what happened. 
  2. Contact your bank and other financial institutions to notify them of potential fraud. 
  3. Watch out for unexpected “Emergency Calls Only” status on your mobile device. 
  4. Be alert for calls requesting more personal information, alert messages from financial institutions, texts in response to two-factor authorization requests. 
  5. File a police report. 
  6. Place a fraud alert on your credit reports and get copies of your report
So, what can a bad guy do with your cell phone number? 

They will try to set up a new cell phone account in your name, requesting the new company port “their” old number to their new account. So now, when they do a password reset request at your bank, they receive the text message with the PIN on their new phone, which conveniently now has your old number. 

That “Emergency Calls Only” status means the switch has been made. 

It is also likely that they may try a different scam, by calling or texting you to get more of your personal information (such as bank account numbers, SSN, driver’s license number) while pretending to be someone from work, or a business you’re familiar with; be cautious and don’t respond. If you think it might be real, then call that business back on the number listed on their website. 

For more information, including steps to protect your phone number, please visit: 

https://www.fcc.gov/port-out-fraud-targets-your-private-accounts

https://www.bbb.org/article/news-releases/17019-bbb-warns-about-cell-phone-porting-scams 

https://www.ctia.org/news/protecting-your-accounts-against-number-porting