Port-Out Fraud

Fraudsters are hijacking mobile phone numbers and they aren’t doing it to make long-distance calls at your expense. They’re doing it because they know that having your mobile phone number gives them an opportunity to assume your identity.

How does it work?

Mobile phone numbers can be legally ported from one mobile phone provider to another if you switch your provider. To combat against this, mobile phone providers have put defences in place, such as asking customers to set up a PIN or password they must provide when inquiring about their account.

However, if a fraudster can get a hold of enough of your personal information, such as your name, address, date of birth, social insurance number, or passwords, then they can steal your phone number, hijack your account, and take your identity along with it.

To complete a port-out fraud, fraudsters first con the victim’s mobile phone provider into believing the request is from the actual account holder. If successful, your mobile phone number is ported to a different mobile device or account set up by the fraudster.

Once receiving your texts and calls, the fraudster will attempt to reset the passwords and access authorizations for as many of your financial and social media accounts as possible. Once the fraudster has access, they can drain your bank accounts, sell your information on the dark web, or ask you to pay them to get your accounts back.

How can you protect yourself?

  • Set up a PIN or password that is required to confirm your identity each time you call your mobile phone provider to inquire about your account.
  • Enable text and email notifications for all your accounts including financial and mobile devices.
  • Do not provide your personal information to anyone that calls or texts asking for it. If the individual asking for your personal information claims to be from a business you are familiar with, hang up and call that business back using the phone number provided on their website or bills to ensure the request is legitimate.
  • Protect information that could be used to verify your identity and keep this information off of social media. This information could include the last four digits of your social insurance number, your phone number, your date of birth, the make and model of your first car, your pet’s name, or your mother’s maiden name.  

What to do if you think you’re a victim of port-out fraud?

If you believe you have fallen victim to a port-out fraud, you should immediately:
  • Contact your mobile phone provider
  • contact your financial institution;
  • contact the police to file a report; and
  • place a fraud alert on your credit reports and register for credit monitoring.