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What is a SIM swap scam and how can I protect myself?

One of the biggest scams currently circulating is when a hacker calls your phone provider, impersonates you, and has a new SIM card issued. It’s called a SIM swap scam. The SIM is the small card that contains your phone number and with it, hackers can redirect your phone calls and text messages. By diverting your incoming messages, scammers can easily complete the text-based, two-factor authentications that protect your most sensitive accounts. If you don’t have two-factor set up, they can use your phone number to obtain your passwords. Once a scammer has control of your mobile phone number, they can reset your authentication to take control of your accounts.

Secure Your Cell Phone Account

The easiest way to protect your cell phone account is to call your provider and tell them you wish to add a PIN or passcode to your account. Every major U.S. carrier offers you this option (which is separate from the login details used for your provider’s website). It prevents imposters from acquiring a new SIM card from customer service because they won’t be able to supply the passcode.

If your cell phone suddenly shows “No Service,” immediately contact your carrier. It may mean your SIM card was swapped, making it impossible to make or receive phone calls and texts. If that happens, lock down your financial accounts as quickly as you can, including blocking withdrawals. Check your balances and report any missing money. Be sure to also review your other accounts such as social media and email.

The good news is phone carriers are actively working to identify these scams and alert their customers. Please reach out to your phone provider to find out what controls they offer to prevent against this type of fraud.

Additional Redwood Credit Union Security Options

  • Add a password to your Redwood Credit Union account for additional security. This password is separate from your online/mobile banking password. It’s an additional security measure required to make changes to your account. To obtain an account password, please visit one of our branch locations
  • You can add a second, reliable phone number to your account. 
  • Consider using deliberate incorrect answers for your security questions. (Peruse these Strong Password Tips.)

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