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Mobile phone identity fraud

We often think of our social security numbers as being the crucial key to unlocking our identities, and it certainly is, but there’s a new kind of key that’s becoming more and more valuable to cybercriminals year by year, your mobile phone number. Every person with a mobile phone has a unique 11 digit number that they share willingly with friends as well as strangers, depending on the circumstances. Downloading an app that required a valid mobile number to continue, written it down on forms at the doctor’s office or used your number at a grocery store to take advantage of your frequent shopper rewards? Unlike social security numbers, we freely share cell phone numbers without too much forethought, and it’s coming back to affect many people in the form of identity theft.  

Thieves can get a hold of your phone number in multiple different ways

Including from data stolen in breaches which can be purchased in bulk on the web at a low cost. Once they have access to your cell phone number, a cybercriminal can do a number of things with it. A cybercriminal could gather lots of information about you since cell phone numbers are often used as an identifier on social media sites, apps and more, typing your number into a search engine or website can help someone get plenty of information about you. A cybercriminal could also take over your mobile account.  People search or reverse-lookup websites allow anyone to find out information about a mobile phone number, including the carrier name and city associated with the number. They may have to pay to get some of the later information, but the cost is usually cheap compared to how much they can benefit from it. Using information gleaned about you, they will impersonate you either in-person or over the phone to gain access to your mobile account. 

Beyond wreaking havoc with your mobile account, access to your phone number enables cybercriminals to take advantage of accounts using text message two-factor authentication. If they are in control of the phone number attached to these accounts, then any phone calls or texts sent to verify your identity will be sent to them instead of you. This could very well give them the ability to change the passwords and get access to your accounts, possibly leading to unauthorized charges on your credit cards or a drained bank account.

Don’t want be affected by mobile phone identity theft

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Source: Next advisor blog 12th July 2017

mobile phone fraud