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Watch Out for The Cellphone Porting Scam

Watch Out for The Cellphone Porting Scam

(Article posted on KimKomando - https://www.komando.com/happening-now/441606/watch-out-for-the-celphone-porting-scam)

The battle against cybercriminals is always evolving. That's because when we catch on to their scams they change them up to find more victims.

Which is why we're always having to come up with more secure ways of protecting our critical information. Can you imagine the damage that could be done if a hacker is able to get access to sensitive data on your smartphone?

Well, there's a new scam dubbed “porting” or “port-out scam” going around that would do just that.

What is a porting scam?

The Better Business Bureau (BBB) is warning Americans about this fairly new scam making the rounds known as a porting or port-out scam.

(Note: Don't confuse this with a SIM card swap scam, it's not the same thing.)

It works like this. A fraudster finds out critical information about you such as your name, phone number, Social Security number, date of birth and more. Much of this information is obtainable on the Dark Web thanks to the massive Equifax data breach that we learned about last year.

Once the criminal has this information they call your mobile phone service provider pretending to be you, and tell them that you're switching to another company but want to keep your phone number. Transferring your number from say Verizon to AT&T is a process called porting.

The porting process takes up to 24 hours to complete. During this time both phones will be functional. Meaning, any text messages that you receive on your phone will also be seen by the scammer on the phone your number is being transferred to.

This opens the door for all kinds of problems. If you have two-factor authentication set up on your bank accounts, or any online sites for that matter, the scammer will try to get the code needed to log into your account. From there, you could become a victim of identity theft and even have money stolen from your bank accounts.

Now, don't let this turn you against two-factor authentication. It's an important security feature that you should be using whenever possible.

The problem isn't two-factor, it's the criminals trying to rip you off. There are ways to prevent falling victim to these types of scams, keep reading for suggestions.

How to protect your gadget?

Porting scams are relatively new, which is why the BBB is warning people about them. Here are some of its suggestions to protect against porting scams:

  • Inquire with your wireless provider about port-out authorization - Every major wireless carrier has some sort of additional security for accounts or for port-out authorization that customers can set up, like a unique pin, or add verification question, which will make it more difficult for someone to port-out your phone. Contact your mobile provider and speak to them specifically about porting and/or port out security on your account.
  • Watch out for unexpected "Emergency Calls Only" status - Call your mobile phone company if your phone suddenly switches to "Emergency Call Service Only" or something similar. That's what happens when your phone number has been transferred to another phone.
  • Be vigilant about communications you receive - Watch out for phishing attempts, alert messages from financial institutions, texts in response to two-factor authorization requests. (PssT! Take phishing IQ test at “KimKomando” to see if you can spot a fake email. https://www.komando.com/tips/361345/can-you-spot-a-fake-email-take-our-phishing-iq-test)
  • If you've fallen victim to one of these scams, alert your mobile provider, financial institutions and take the standard steps to combat identity theft. You should also help warn others by filing a report on BBB (https://www.bbb.org/scamtracker/us)

By clicking on any of the links in this message you will be leaving the Security State Bank of Fergus Falls' Website.  We do not make representation as the to completeness or accuracy of the information provided at these websites.

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IRS Security Awareness for Taxes


The IRS, the states and the tax industry are committed to protecting you from identity theft. We’ve strengthened our partnership to fight a common enemy – the criminals – and to devote ourselves to a common goal – serving you. Working together, we’ve made many changes to combat identity theft, and we are making progress. However, cybercriminals are constantly evolving, and so must we. The IRS is working hand-in-hand with your state revenue officials, your tax software provider and your tax preparer.

But, we need your help. We need you to join with us. By taking a few simple steps, you can better protect your personal and financial data online and at home. Please consider these steps to protect yourselves from identity thieves:

Keep Your Computer Secure

  • Use security software and make sure it updates automatically; essential tools include:
  • Firewall
  • Virus/malware protection
  • File encryption for sensitive data
  • Treat your personal information like cash, don’t leave it lying around
  • Check out companies to find out who you’re really dealing with
  • Give personal information only over encrypted websites – look for “https” addresses.
  • Use strong passwords and protect them
  • Back up your files

Avoid Phishing and Malware

  • Avoid phishing emails, texts or calls that appear to be from the IRS and companies you know and trust, go directly to their websites instead.
  • Don’t open attachments in emails unless you know who sent it and what it is.
  • Download and install software only from websites you know and trust.
  • Use a pop-up blocker.
  • Talk to your family about safe computing.

Protect Personal Information

Don’t routinely carry your social security card or documents with your SSN.

Do not overshare personal information on social media. Information about past addresses, a new car, a new home and your children help identity thieves pose as you. Keep old tax returns and tax records under lock and key or encrypted if electronic. Shred tax documents before trashing.

Avoid IRS Impersonators. The IRS will not call you with threats of jail or lawsuits. The IRS will not send you an unsolicited email suggesting you have a refund or that you need to update your account. The IRS will not request any sensitive information online. These are all scams, and they are persistent. Don’t fall for them. Forward IRS-related scam emails to phishing@irs.gov. Report IRS-impersonation telephone calls at www.tigta.gov.

Additional steps:

  • Check your credit report annually; check your bank and credit card statements often;
  • Review your Social Security Administration records annually: Sign up for My Social Security at www.ssa.gov.
  • If you are an identity theft victim whose tax account is affected, review www.irs.gov/identitytheft for details.

Security Awareness for Taxpayers

Publication 4524 (Rev. 9-2015) Catalog Number 48359Q Department of the Treasury Internal Revenue Service www.irs.gov


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