WHERE would we be without our smart phones? We keep in touch with loved ones, do our banking, listen to music, take photos, access websites.
But not everything is rosy when it comes to mobile phones.
Scammers are now targeting phone users and may steal your mobile number so they can use your online accounts.
The Department of Human Services has a warning on its website explaining how scammers can steal your mobile number, what you should look for and how to get help.
To steal your mobile number, scammers may first steal your personal information.
They may get this from places like your social media, mailbox or rubbish bin. They could also use important documents you've lost and not reported, like a Medicare card.
Once they have your personal information scammers may contact your phone company and use your information to pretend they're you. They may tell your phone company that you've lost your phone. They may then ask your phone company to transfer your mobile number to another SIM card or phone company.
Mobile porting and SIM swap scams
Mobile porting is moving your mobile number to another phone company.
SIM swapping is moving your mobile number to another SIM card.
How criminals can access your accounts
If scammers steal your mobile number your phone will stop working. The scammers will then get your text messages and phone calls.
Many online accounts are safe as long as your phone is secure. This is because online accounts like myGov have 2-factor authentication where your online account provider sends a code to your mobile phone so you can log in. This makes it very difficult for criminals to access your accounts even if they've stolen your account usernames and passwords.
If criminals steal your mobile number they may get your 2-factor authentication codes and use them to access your accounts.
How to tell if someone may have stolen your mobile number
Someone may have stolen your mobile number if:
- you have limited or no service in areas where you normally have coverage
- SOS only is showing instead of your provider's name or reception bars
- you can't make or take calls or texts
- your phone company contacts you to say they've ported your number.
What to do if someone steals your mobile number
If you think someone has stolen your mobile number, contact your phone company straight away. They may be able to get your number back. If someone has ported your mobile number, ask the phone company to reverse this.
Contact all your banks and other financial institutions and tell them someone has stolen your mobile number. Get them to freeze your online banking accounts.
Change all your online account passwords.
Check your online accounts to see if someone else has used your account.
If your myGov account has been, or could be, used by someone else, contact them straight away. You can call or email the Scams and Identity Theft Helpdesk for advice.
More scam warnings here