The objective of a fraudulent SIM swap is mainly to intercept one-time pins (OTPs) sent by SMS for online, cell phone and internet banking transactions that are performed on a customer’s account. In other lesser instances, this practice is used to steal airtime balances in prepaid SIMs or loyalty points.
Fraudulent SIM swaps are happening through identity theft using a customer’s personal information obtained through:
- Phishing (fraudulent SMS, e-mail, and online messages or website postings to solicit personal information),
- Social engineering techniques (manipulating people into divulging confidential information),
- Theft of documents that contain your personal information.
The obtaining of a customer’s personal information is a crucial step that enables the fraudster to properly authenticate on the customer’s behalf i.e. answer all security-related questions that are posed by the network operator/ service provider before processing any requests for SIM swaps.
To safeguard yourself against SIM swap fraud, here are a few tips:
- Protect and safeguard your personal information by never disclosing any personal or confidential information such as login details, bank account details, PINs, or passwords to any source, including anyone who identifies him/ herself as a bank official or claims to represent your service provider.
- Treat any request for your personal or confidential information with a high degree of skepticism which includes any unsolicited phone calls, text, social media, or email messages from individuals asking for your personal information.
- Avoid oversharing personal information such as your date of birth, phone numbers, physical address, email address(es), employment details etc. on social media platforms as these are a source of information and often used to build up information base on the intended victim.
- Be vigilant and always conscious of your cell phone’s connectivity status. If you realize that you cannot make or receive calls or you are not receiving SMS notifications, do not automatically assume that you have a problem with your network or handset. Contact the mobile service provider and enquire whether a SIM swap has been requested or processed on your number.
- Remember that a fraudster will sometimes try to frustrate you before requesting a fraudulent SIM swap on your number, by making nuisance calls to you in the hope that this will lead you to turn your phone off and therefore be unaware of any SMS notifications sent to you or connectivity issues with your number.
- Do not click on any attachment or links provided in emails, especially emails that purport to come from your bank or financial institution.
- Never ignore an SMS message alerting you to a pending SIM swap request on your number. Contact your mobile service provider immediately to confirm that all is in order.
Here is a list of service providers or network operators you should contact if you notice anything suspicious:
– MTN: 123 stop (123 7867)
– Vodacom: 082 1946
– Cell C: 084 140
– Virgin Mobile: 0741 000 123
– Telkom: 081180