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Cellphone not working? You might be the victim of a SIM card scam

If you're not receiving incoming calls or texts, someone else might be

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – Ever misplaced your cellphone? Then you know how alarming it can be to lose your lifeline.

But what if you know where your phone is, yet for some reason you’re not receiving any incoming calls or messages. Then you find out that your cellphone’s SIM card is being used by a new device.

If that happens, it could be a sign that your phone is compromised. That might mean someone has switched out your SIM card without your knowledge, and now they’re using it for their own gain.

It’s fair to wonder how this could happen. As the Federal Trade Commission notes, all it takes is one enterprising scammer and a gullible customer service worker. A scammer posing as you could contact your cellular provider, saying your phone was lost, and ask them to activate a new SIM card.

Should customer service buy that story and comply with the request, all your data could fall into the wrong hands. Any incoming calls and text messages meant for you would be routed to the new phone.

Using with your number, there’s no limit to what kind of data the scammer could obtain.

Take, for instance, any email address that uses your phone number to retrieve your password. Often, they’ll require two-factor authentication. But if the scammer has access to your calls and texts, they could easily break into your email and access any bank or social media accounts linked to it.

Below is a list of tips from the FTC to help protect your data:

  • Don't reply to calls, emails or text messages seeking personal information.
  • Take steps to avoid exposing too much of your personal information online.
  • Create a special pin or password on your cellular service account.
  • Consider shoring up security on accounts with your personal information.

Think you've become a target of this scam? Reach out to your service provider and update your account passwords. Then contact your banking institution to check for suspicious charges.


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