• SIM swapping has become prevalent after the government asked Kenyans to register their cards a few months ago.

• Even high-ranking police officers have fallen victim to SIM swapping.

Technology: Phone with social media
Technology: Phone with social media

Sim swap happens when scammers contact your mobile provider to trick them into activating a SIM card the fraudsters have. 

Sadly when this happens, the scammers now have control of your phone number. Anyone calling or texting this number will contact the scammers’ device, not your phone.

This is known as SIM swap fraud, and it means scammers could potentially enter your username and password when logging onto your bank’s website.

The bank will then send a code by text — two-factor authentication — to your phone number, a code that you’ll then have to enter to access your online account. The scammer will then use that code to enter your bank account.

Here's how you know you are a victim: You can't make calls or receive texts, you're notified of activity elsewhere, you find out about transactions you didn't make, and you're unable to access accounts. 

How SIM swapping happens 

A SIM swap scam happens when criminals take over control of your phone by tricking your provider to connect your phone number to a SIM card in their possession. 

To steal your number, scammers do all they can to get your personal information.

First, the scammers call your mobile provider, impersonating you and claiming to have lost or damaged their (your) card. They then ask customer service to activate a new SIM card in the fraudster’s possession.

This ports your telephone number to the criminal’s device, which contains the scammer’s own SIM card. Once your carrier completes this request, all phone calls and texts that are supposed to go to you will instead go to the scammer’s device.

You are probably asking how the scammers were able to answer the security questions your mobile provider asks. They have this info courtesy phishing, malware.

Scammers might send you an email claiming to be from your smartphone provider. This email might say that you need to click on a link to keep your account open.

When you do, you’re taken to a new page that asks you to provide personal information, including your name, birthdate, and passwords.

Once you fill this out and click “Send,” you’ve given the scammers access to the information they need to trick your mobile phone provider into a SIM swap scam.

Other scammers trick you into clicking on email links that fill your computer with malware that records your keystrokes, including any passwords or security question answers you type. 

Fraudsters might also buy your personal and financial information on the dark web. 

Once scammers provide your smartphone providers with the information they got from you or the dark web, they use it to convince your provider to switch your number to a new SIM card. 

These criminals then gain access to and control over your cellphone number, something that fraudsters can use to access your phone communications with banks and other organizations, in particular, your text messages.

They can then receive any codes or password resets sent to that phone via call or text for any of your accounts. This way they have access.

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