This week massive amounts of T-Mobile users were sent a text message that warned of a “port out scam.” This text was indeed real, and most certainly did play out in a most negative way for at least a few users quite recently. Today we’re going to have a brief chat on what this means and what you can do to protect yourself from malicious attacks of this nature.
T-Mobile connects users to a website at T-Mobile dot com slash customers slash secure which explains number port-out scams. As they suggest, a port-out scam includes you, your phone number, and at least one other person running the scam. They’ll begin running the scam by acting as you.
A person acting as you will either call T-Mobile (or any carrier, for that matter,) and impersonate you. Their objective is to get your phone number switched to a different SIM card. If they do get your number attached to the SIM card they have on-hand, they’re on to the next step.
That next step is where the major damage comes into play. Once a malicious 3rd party has a SIM cards with your number on it, they’ll begin calling places like your bank, again impersonating you to gain access to accounts. Switching passwords, spending money, transferring valuable assets.
T-Mobile provides the number 1-800-937-8997 for all phones to add a PIN code to a T-Mobile phone line. Users can also use their T-Mobile phone to dial 611 to get the same result. Once a customer care representative answers, they’ll ask you to create a passcode between 6 and 15 digits.
A new PIN code for your phone number will allow only you, the holder of the PIN, to transfer your number or gain access to your number. This is not the same as the password you use for your T-Mobile account – in fact it should be substantially different to the point where it cannot likely be guessed. This PIN adds another layer of protection between you and your would-be attacker in the future.
Similar services are offered by other carriers, too. Just call up your wireless carrier and ask to set up a PIN code and/or password for your phone number – this is also called Port Validation. It’s relatively easy to do – just don’t then forget the PIN. That’d be bad.
IN SHORT: That text message you got on your T-Mobile phone about a port out scam was real. T-Mobile encouraged users across the nation to add a PIN code to their phone number to avoid malicious parties from switching your number to their phone, as such a thing would allow them access to several other of your most important service accounts – including your bank.