‘SIM swapping’ and ‘phone number porting’ part of recent scam in Ontario

Ontario Provincial Police (OPP) is warning the public about a recent SIM swap scam affecting people in the province.

Police say fraudsters are using SIM swapping or phone number porting to gain access to victims’ email, social media, and financial accounts.

A SIM card connects a phone number and mobile service to a mobile device. A criminal 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 scammer then downloads a series of the most popular apps and selects the ‘Forgot Password’ button. If an account is associated with your phone number or email address, the fraudster will receive a verification code. They will then use this code to confirm ownership of the account, create their own password and takeover your accounts.

“Fraudsters may empty your bank accounts, apply for credit in your good name, or impersonate you to defraud your entire contact list,” said OPP in a news release. “In the meantime, you lose access to your mobile service, are typically locked out of all your accounts, and are left scrambling.”

OPP has provided the following tips to help keep your information safe:

    • 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 or Crime Stoppers at 1-800-222-8477.