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Police warn of sim card swap scam

Ontario Provincial Police, in partnership with the Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre (CAFC), are advising the public of a recent scam where fraudsters are using SIM swapping and phone number porting to gain access to email, social media and financial accounts.

From there, they gain direct access to personal information, calendar, contacts and money to empty bank accounts, apply for credit, or impersonate to defraud an entire contact list.

In the meantime, victims lose access to mobile service, are typically locked out of all accounts, and are left scrambling.

Here’s how the scam works:
Your SIM card connects your phone number and mobile service to your mobile device. You connect dozens of your accounts to your mobile device through the use of apps. Most of these logins are linked to your email address, phone number or both (if you setup two-factor authentication).

A fraudster will impersonate you to gain access to your mobile account and may claim that their phone has been lost or stolen. Your phone number will be linked to a new SIM and device that the fraudster controls.

The fraudster then downloads a series of the most popular and most attractive apps. They will select the ‘Forgot Password’ button on all apps. If an account is associated to your phone number or email address, the fraudster will receive a verif ication code. They will then use this code to confirm ownership of the account, create their own password and takeover your accounts.

Tips to protect yourself:
– Keep your personal information personal. It is as simple as not publishing your date of birth on social media.
– Do not answer phishing emails or text messages looking for you to confirm your password or update your account information.
– Use an offline password manager.
– Contact your phone provider and ask about additional security measures that may be available.
– If you lose mobile service on your device, contact your service provider immediately. Go with your gut. If a message seems fishy it probably is.

If you think you, or someone you know has been a victim of fraud, please contact your local police service. For those who wish to remain anonymous, contact Crime Stoppers at 1-800-222-8477 or p3tips.com.

The SFO works in partnership with the Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre (www.antifraudcentre.ca) in educating the public with the release of fraud bulletins.

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