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What is a SIM Swap? What are the ways to avoid it?

SIM Swap

You have seen many times in the news that this person’s account has resulted in transactions worth crores and millions of rupees. Recently, a Mumbai-based businessman was cheated of ₹ 1.86 crores in a SIM swap fraud. The Bandra-Kurla complex cyber police’s call center has confirmed the incident.

If you’re wondering the word SIM swap and you do not know what a SIM swap fraud is, you should know here:

What is a SIM Swap?

The simple meaning of swap is to exchange one thing for another. For better understanding, let’s take a genuine example.

Let’s say you have a 3G SIM card and you want to upgrade it to a 4G SIM card. In this case, you request your service provider to swap your 3G SIM card into a 4G SIM card. Then your service provider deactivates your old 3G card and gives you a new 4G card which activates within a few hours. This is what an authentic SIM swap is.

SIM swap technique is used by fraudsters to block the existing SIM card and get a duplicate SIM card for the registered mobile number from the service provider. Once the SIM is swapped, the fraudster gets access to all OTPs, financial accounts, card related alerts and details to do financial transactions without the victim’s knowledge.

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How does it work?

Our mobile phones are loaded with important information like the contact list, emails, photos, SMSs, financial details such as ATM withdrawal alerts, banking transaction alerts, OTPs.

The fraudsters send you the Trojan or Malware or eMail and easily obtain your mobile number and basic bank details. Then they call you and they behave as if talking from your SIM card service provider and get all your basic details.

They then contact the service provider and request a swap of the SIM card with the help of fake papers.

After verification, the working card in your mobile becomes inactive and thee fraudster gets a new active card and your mobile network start showing ‘No Service’. Then all your financial SMS, OTP alerts and other financial alerts or transactions are sent to the new active card and handed over to the fraudsters.

When your SIM does not show a service, and you find out from a service provider that there is a SIM swap request and you visit the branch with KYC to find out what the real issue is, this fraudster has stolen your money from your bank account.

This is a two-step fraud technique where the fraudsters first get your bank details and mobile number by sending you phishing emails or trojans or malware and then block your SIM through the SIM swap technique.

You may be surprised to find out how many innocent victims have given their details on the call without a second thought.

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Tips:

  • Use a strong password mixture of alphabets, numbers and special characters.
  • Be careful when clicking on email attachments or links in emails.
  • Double-check the website URL.
  • Don’t use a public computer or cafe’s free WiFi for financial transactions.
  • Watch what you’re sharing on the social networks.
  • If someone calls or emails you asking for sensitive information, say No.
  • Contact your mobile operator as soon as you receive an indication of a probable SIM-swap.
  • Enquire with your mobile operator if you have no network connectivity and are not receiving any calls or alerts for unusually long periods.
  • Do not switch off your cell phone in the event you receive numerous unknown calls. It could be a ploy to get you to turn off your phone and prevent you from noticing a tampered network connection.
  • Register for SMS and email alerts that inform you of any activity regarding your bank accounts.
  • Check your bank statements and online banking transaction history regularly so you can identify any irregularities.

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