A porting-out scam targets a person’s mobile phone number when it is being ported during a change in phone service. Scammers with your personal information can interfere during the service change and hijack the phone number. This is usually done by trying to call the phone company and make them believe they are the authorized account holder. If successful, the phone number is ported to a different mobile device, or service account, set up by the scammer. From there, the scammer tries to reset access credentials and access the victim’s personal accounts and information.
The FCC provides the following tips:
How to Protect Yourself
- Be Proactive: If you don’t already have a PIN or a password to verify your identity when calling about your account, contact your phone company and ask about adding one.
- Stay Vigilant: Enable both email and text notifications for financial and other important accounts. If you receive notice that changes to your account have been made without your knowledge, contact the business holding that account immediately to let them know that you didn’t authorize a change.
- Don’t Respond: If someone calls or texts you and asks for personal information, do not provide it. If the caller claims to be from a business you are familiar with, hang up and call that business using a number you trust, such as the number on your bill, in a phone book or on the company’s website.
- Don’t Overshare: Guard personal details that can be used to verify your identity – such as the last four digits of your Social Security number, your phone number, your date of birth, the make and model of your car, your pet’s name, or your mother’s maiden name. And keep that information off social media.
Typically, loss of service on your device – your phone going dark or only allowing 911 calls – is the first sign this has happened. If you suspect you have been a victim of a porting-out scam, take immediate action:
- Contact your phone company
- Contact your bank and other financial institutions
- File a police report
- Place a fraud alert on your credit reports and get copies of your report
File a complaint
If you feel you’re the victim of a porting-out scam, file a complaint with the FCC for free. The FCC Complaint Center FAQ has more information about the agency’s informal complaint process. You can also file complaints about identity theft and consumer fraud with the FTC.