A crook can steal your identity by taking control of your wireless phone account—by pretending to be you in person at the mobile store. The villain can then buy pricey mobiles and sell them—and guess who gets the bill but not the profit.
Symptoms of Hijacked Account
- Suddenly losing service
- Your carrier says you went to a store, upgraded a few phones, then shut down your old device.
- Or, the rep will straight-out ask if the problem is with your new iPhone—even though you never purchased one.
- You were never at the store and never authorized any account changes.
If this happens to you, says an article at nbc-2.com, you’ll need to visit the carrier’s local store, show your ID and get new SIM cards. The carrier absorbs the costs of the stolen new phones.
But it’s not as simple as it sounds. What if in the interim, you need to use your phone—like during an emergency or while conducting business? Or your phone goes dead just as your teen calls and says she’s in trouble?
The thief, with a fake ID, waltzes into a store that does not have tight owner-verification protocols, and gets away with changing the victim’s account and buying expensive phones.
The nbc-2.com report says that this crime is on the increase and is affecting all four of the major mobile carriers: AT&T, T-Mobile, Verizon and Sprint.
Here’s another thing to consider: The thief may keep the new phone, which still has your number, to gain access to your online accounts via the two-factor authentication process—which works by sending a one-time numerical text or voice message to the accountholder’s phone.
The thief, who already has your online account’s password, will receive this code and be able to log into the account. So as innocuous as stolen phones may seem, this can be a gateway to cleaning out your bank account. The thief can also go on a shopping spree with mobile phone based shopping.
We’re all anxiously waiting for mobile carriers to upgrade their store security so that people just can’t strut in and get away with pretending to be an accountholder. Biometrics come to mind. Photo IDs are worthless.
In the meantime, accountholders can create a PIN or password that’s required prior to changing anything on the account.
Robert Siciliano CEO of IDTheftSecurity.com, personal security and identity theft expert and speaker is the author of 99 Things You Wish You Knew Before Your Identity Was Stolen. See him knock’em dead in this identity theft prevention video.