The mobile phone has become an integral part of our identity since nearly everyone owns one today. Identity fraudsters are continually searching for innovative ways to obtain your personal information for the purposes of identity fraud or theft.
Here’s how scammers can get your phone number:
- Social media accounts
- Governmental records
- Public Records
- Online presence over the internet
- Website or blog you own
- By contacting your friends and impersonating a common friend
This article will elaborate on how scammers can get access to your phone numbers. Furthermore, the possible misuse by scammers and the modes of preventing scammers to access phone numbers will be discussed.
The most significant risk of disclosing your mobile phone number is that it may come into the clutches of a cyber criminal, who would then steal information from your mobile device. Some SMS systems lack security and can be hacked.
Your mobile phone number might be linked to various other sensitive or personal information, such as logins, identities, passwords, and more because so much information is available in government documents and traded on the dark web following data breaches.
Therefore, if someone obtains the unique code that is sent to you from such an app, they may go into your accounts and modify the password without you noticing it. It is essential to use SMS systems with end-to-end encryption for all communications.
SIM switching is another risk, in which crooks utilize SIM cards attached to your smartphone to steal your mobile number or carrier account information.
This sort of threat is very genuine and frightening, and it typically includes social engineering to deceive a phone company agent.
A scammer might access your bank accounts or call banks that utilize your mobile number to verify if they have your mobile phone number.
Once the scammer gets your carrier to transfer out your number, it is possible that you may never receive it back. Porting fraud is a significant issue for phone owners.
Can Another Person Take My Phone Number?
Yes, your phone number is available online in several sources. Scammers can use stolen mobile phone numbers to get two-factor authentication tokens and access to all of their messages, applications, and online accounts.
They can even steal your cell phone number via SIM swapping. First, they purchase a disposable phone and insert a new SIM card. They will call your cellphone carrier while posing as you.
If the attacker has sufficient information to persuade the individual, they may move your services and mobile number to the SIM card and new burner phone. Now, your mobile number has already been compromised without your knowledge.
All of your SMS, phone conversations and 2FA codes would then be sent to the hacker’s phone. If you have linked bank accounts as well as other applications to your mobile number, they will have the same access to your data.
Numerous location-based systems will identify you as the caller if they recognize your phone number. If hackers reach this point, they can reset all your credentials and block you out of all your accounts.
How Can Scammers Obtain Your Phone Number?
Numerous data breaches or great troves of raw information gathered and traded mostly on the dark web are frequent techniques for fraudsters to obtain your telephone number. A second method involves rummaging through an old bill, including your phone number.
Using a people-searching website, a person might obtain a vast amount of information on mobile phone numbers, including criminal history, previous residences, social media profiles, arrests, subpoenas, court cases, and more.
From completing online forms to accessing your bank account, your phone number is used to verify your identity.
Similarly to your email address, the phone number is one of the most often used forms of personal information in daily life.
Scammers obtain your phone number for just this purpose, and they do it using the following unlawful means:
- Dark Web
On the dark web, fraudsters acquire phone numbers in bulk. For instance, the contact details for four million Clubhouse members were for sale on the dark web as a dataset.
Acquiring millions of phone numbers just on the dark web is quite inexpensive. For example, an American’s basic personal information, like his phone number, costs only $8.
- Number Generator
A frequent technique employed by scammers is the auto dialer. This device produces and dials arbitrary phone numbers.
- Online-Based Social Networking, Web Search, Or Directories
Numerous social media networks, websites, and online telephone directories provide phone numbers. Fraudsters utilize numerous methods, such as web scraping, to get phone numbers from the web.
What Information Can Be Obtained Out Of A Phone Number?
It is astonishing how much information can be obtained from a cell phone number alone. Your name and maybe your address are listed first. Other items may include:
- Past addresses.
- Family members’ names
- Where one resides.
- Your assets and the purchase price of your home.
- Your whole criminal history.
- Driver’s records
- Legal challenges include court cases, lawsuits, etc.
- Travel-related information.
- Social media accounts.
- Additional online accounts
- Email addresses.
- Personal records.
- Deep web as well as dark web records.
- Professional credentials.
- IP number.
How Do Scammers Use Your Phone Number?
Regrettably, the potential of the phone number is enormous, offering hackers and scammers several opportunities to commit crimes.
Let’s investigate how hackers may obtain your mobile number, what they’ll do with it, plus how you can safeguard your cell number and other sensitive information. Among the most prevalent are:
- Gain access to your social networking accounts.
- Contact friends and relatives by text message or phone to defraud them.
- To conduct fraud, spoofing the phone number as well as phoning known contacts.
- Sending phishing texts to your contacts is known as “smishing.”
- Take control of your phone number and your digital life.
- Commit identity theft while posing as you.
- Obtain your online bank or credit card credentials and assume control of them.
- Employ your number for automated phone calls.
- Deliver phishing emails to the user’s inbox.
- SIM swapping to steal your number.
- Access your voicemail
Scammers get and utilize phone numbers unlawfully for a number of nefarious objectives.
1. Fraud Calls
This is the most common reason why scammers seek your phone number. Scammers obtain your phone number in order to swindle you out of money, bank information, and other sensitive data.
Swindlers sometimes imitate well-known banks, insurance companies, government entities, or retail mega stores in order to defraud you. For instance, HMRC disclosed that about 600,000 calls impersonating HMRC were made to UK residents in 2021.
In a few of these calls, fraudsters requested sensitive financial data and persuaded victims to make a payment by providing tax refunds and frightening them with impending penalties for unpaid taxes.
Swindlers may utilize your mobile number to get access to your accounts. A text message sent to your mobile phone number may be used as a multi-factor authentication mechanism when logging into applications such as banking apps.
Nevertheless, some of these SMS networks are not end-to-end secured and are therefore vulnerable to hacking. If the fraudsters obtain your mobile number, they can divert this SMS message to their own number and access your applications and/or bank accounts.
2. Take Control Of A Social Network Account
Additionally, fraudsters might utilize your mobile number to get access to your social media sources.
This theft begins when scammers get your telephone number. Then, your number is assigned to a brand-new SIM card. This allows them to remove your phone from your mobile device while maintaining control of your phone number. This practice is known as SIM switching.
By mimicking you, fraudsters can modify your passwords or take control of your accounts on social media using this strategy.
One such casualty is the former CEO of Twitter, Jack Dorsey. Hackers took control of his Twitter feed and publish messages.
What to Do If Scammers Are Utilizing Your Phone Number
The most effective method for avoiding this cybersecurity catastrophe is to stop it from ever occurring.
Nonetheless, if you discover unexpectedly that fraudsters are now using the phone number to perpetrate fraud or defraud others, you should immediately take the following steps:
- Contact your wireless carrier and report the incident. Request that they add a secondary password to your account so that it cannot be accessed without the password.
- Inform your friends and relatives that your phone number is being utilized in this manner.
- Stop sharing your phone number online and with everyone who asks for it.
- Avoid websites and applications that connect to your phone.
- Enable two-factor authentication on every account.
- Obtain a phone number with Google Voice that is not associated with any other number.
- Never click on hyperlinks in emails or text messages. Malware is frequently associated with text messaging and email.
- Employ extremely robust passwords and never reuse them across various websites.
- Utilize third-party authenticators wherever possible.
- Update your accounts’ security questions, including Gmail.
You may become a target of phone scams, money fraud, or identity theft if your number gets into the wrong hands. Unfortunately, it is surprisingly simple to locate someone’s phone number.
Data leaks are one of the most prevalent ways that fraudsters obtain your phone number. However, there are several additional methods by which they can take your digits.
Even if you are careful about what you publish online, it is not always feasible to protect your phone number from fraudsters. Here are a few typical methods a criminal may attempt to obtain your phone number:
1. Social Media
Numerous social networking permit or even mandate that members display their phone numbers.
While this may improve platform security, it poses a possible threat to your identity security. Putting your phone number on Facebook and other social media sites makes it simple for fraudsters to reach you and launch scams.
2. Phishing Frauds
Criminals deceive unsuspecting people by sending them phishing emails and SMS messages posing as genuine companies.
Once the fraudsters have gained your trust, they will send you to a website where they will request personal information, such as your phone number. In only the first three months of 2021, researchers uncovered more than 611,000 phishing sites.
3. Dark Web
The Dark Web exists beneath the publicly available portion of the internet. This is where, among other things, fraudsters acquire and sell personal details that are frequently obtained following a data breach.
In 2021, phone numbers have been the fourth most common type of personally identifiable information compromised by data breaches.
Shoulder-boarding Scammers also can listen in on conversations in public locations and acquire your phone number. In a more advanced variant of the possible cyber scam, hackers intercept whatever information you input to a website using public Wi-Fi.
What Do Scammers Get From Scam Calls?
Your mobile number is an accessible point of entry for scammers and identity thieves. Once an attacker gains information about your PII, gaining access to your bank accounts is rather simple.
Once they have your phone, they are able to send you phishing SMS, mislead you into downloading malware or spyware, or even use social engineering to obtain your personal identification information (PII).
Typically, scammers seek one of the abilities to follow:
- To Convince The Individual To Pay
The basic objective of scammers is to defraud you for money. Scammers pose as banks, insurance firms, telecommunications companies, or government agencies in order to deceive victims into making payments.
For instance, they may pose as a decision to invest and claim they would release your pension money early provided you pay them a specified sum.
- Access To Confidential Data
Scammers may pose as your bank, health insurer, or a government body in order to request sensitive information, such as your financial and health information. Then, they benefit by selling this information to third parties.
- User’s Digital Device Or Account Online Access
Scammers may even pose as the IT help desk for an established company and request remote access to your computer to safeguard you from impending danger.
For example, they may request that you download antivirus software in response to an urgent threat. This software can provide them access to all of your device’s info.
How To Recognize A Scam Call?
Scam phone calls are growing prevalent and sophisticated. Utilize the following suggestions if you believe you are now being scammed:
When you get an unwanted call, you should first be wary. Government agencies such as HMRC, and large retail, technology, and aviation corporations are extremely unlikely to contact you without your consent.
Scammers imitate employees of these institutions to instill panic and a sense of urgency in you and get your money or personal information.
The most common initial approach is to contact you and afterward hang up. Then, they wait until you call them back, and if you do, you receive a hefty fee.
Another consideration is automated phone calls. Robot calls are prerecorded sales communications that are sent to millions of individuals like you every day.
You should be skeptical. If you get a cold call. Remember that legitimate companies, banks, and governments will never request your passwords or financial information over the phone.
Be wary of calls in which the caller acts as the bank and requests that you enter the bank account. They do so in order to discover your account’s PIN’s and subsequently to access your account.
Last, if the speaker speaks bad English, you are much more likely to be a victim of a scam because a substantial proportion of these calls originate from other countries.
How To Defend Yourself Against Scammers?
Do not provide your mobile number to unreliable websites and services. If you refrain from revealing your phone number on unsecured websites, you may dramatically reduce your chance of falling victim to fraud.
For instance, if a website lacks a secure connection or a comprehensive privacy statement, you should avoid revealing your phone number.
Unusual characteristics of the URL are another indication of a fraudulent website. For instance, if you visit the website of your insurance provider and the name is incorrect, or you don’t even see the HTTPS header, your link is not safe.
Confirming that a webpage has a genuine SSL/TLS certificate is a further precaution you may take when accessing the Internet. This may be determined by clicking the lock icon beside the address bar.
If there is reason to suspect fraud, several cybersecurity experts advocate hanging up the phone and remaining silent.
Respond and report fraud. The website allows you to report suspicious phone calls so that others can be notified about potential threats.
It can be conclusively said that scammers can do more with your phone numbers than you can imagine. While scamming contacts is on the rise in general, you may protect yourself from being a victim by paying closer attention to unwanted calls.
If you feel you are receiving a scam call, you should hang up and double-check the organization’s website to see if that number is listed as a contact number. Remember, it is best to verify the safety of a suspicious correnspondence before responding in any way. This can help prevent intrusions and compromise.