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What you need to know about port fraud and SIM swaps

These are two relatively new types of frauds in Canada where scammers target your personal information to impersonate you and access your banking and other accounts linked to your phone. These fraudsters issue requests to port (or transfer) phone numbers to a different wireless service provider or request SIM swaps from service providers, so they can gain access to your phone number.

Once they gain control of your number, they’ll have access to all the services you’ve linked to your phone: bank accounts, emails, pictures, phone calls, text messages and so on. They can then use the “forgot password” feature and use the verification code they receive to change passwords and take over your online accounts.

How does it work?

All network operators follow the same number porting system established by the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC) so that customers can easily transfer to another service provider and keep the same phone number.

Fraudsters start by trying to find information about you – your name, phone number and any other facts they can find. They look for this information on social media sites or may trick you into providing this information by sending you phishing mails, phone calls or texts.

Once they have enough personal information, they move to the next step – taking over your phone number through either porting the number or swapping the SIM. In the case of porting fraud, they’ll ask for your number to be transferred to another carrier. SIM swaps are slightly different but serve the same purpose. Your SIM card connects your phone number and mobile service to your phone, so fraudsters request your account be updated to a new SIM that is in their possession.

What we’re doing to protect you

We’ve introduced a new process, developed with other wireless providers, that is designed to stop fraudsters who try to make unauthorized ports in their tracks. Now, when another carrier is contacted to transfer a Rogers, Fido or chatr phone number to them, Rogers will receive a notice from the new carrier and will send the customer a text message.

They will need to keep their phone turned on to receive the text and must confirm the request by texting YES. If they don’t respond within 90 minutes, the transfer will not take place. This builds on a measure we introduced last fall when we began sending text notifications for port requests that asked customers to contact us if they had not asked for their number to be transferred.

The text message looks like this:

Rogers svc msg: We received a request to transfer your wireless number to another service provider. To approve this request, please reply YES. To cancel it, simply reply NO. For security reasons, you only have 90 minutes to send us your reply. If you don’t answer within this time, the transfer request will automatically be cancelled. Questions? Give us a call at 1877-327-8503.

What you can do to protect yourself

  • Don’t publish your phone number on any of your social media profiles and limit the amount of personal information you post online like your birthday, elementary school names, or your pet’s name. Fraudsters can use these clues to answer common identification questions and impersonate you.
  • Don’t use the same passwords or usernames across multiple accounts. Always create a strong, unique password for your sensitive accounts and change the password often. Fraudsters may access the dark web to get lists of passwords and if you use the same one for multiple accounts, they can log in and take over your accounts.
  • Don’t respond to online or phone requests for personal information such as your bank account number, even if they say they are from a company’s customer service, help desk or corporate security department.
  • Be wary of urgent messages, slightly altered websites or email addresses, and emails with spelling and grammatical errors.

If you think you’ve been a victim of fraud react quickly

If you suspect something is wrong and/or if you can’t make or receive phone calls on your mobile, contact your wireless provider immediately.

You may also wish to:

  • Report the fraud to your local police and the Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre at 1-888-495-8501.
  • Notify your bank and credit card companies.
  • Contact the two national credit bureaus to request a copy of your credit reports and place a fraud warning on your file (Equifax Canada Toll free:1-800-465-7166 and TransUnion Canada Toll free: 1-877-525-3823).