Phone porting leads to stolen identity and bank funds

Posted at 6:45 AM, Nov 08, 2021
and last updated 2021-11-08 06:48:01-05

If you’ve ever bought a new cell phone and wanted to keep your same number, there’s a setting providers use that could leave yourself open to getting hacked.

It’s called porting.

When a hacker can port out your number to a different phone, that could wreak havoc on all the important information you keep on you phone. That includes bank account log-ins.

One month ago, a Palm Beach County man that didn’t want to be identified became the victim of illegal phone porting.

"It was the panic and the sense of what else can they get access to," said the scam victim.

He said he was suddenly unable to make calls or texts so he went to his cell providers physical store.

There, according to the scam victim, he was told "Somebody in Knoxville, Tennessee. Looks like they went into a Verizon store, bought an android phone and moved your phone number to their device."

Internet security expert and CEO of Infostream Alan Crowetz says two factor authentication meant to keep your logins safe can be cracked with phone number porting.

Crowetz said, "The bad guys got the hardest part. The password's easy to get. Now they have a phone number."

if a hacker ports your phone and steals your password when you get that two-factor text code to login to apps, like bank accounts, then it's game on.

The Palm Beach County phone porting victim said, "I'm starting getting alerts from my bank account saying low balance, account's overdrawn what's going on. So of course my heart starts pumping blood."

The low balance alert came after the porting scammer had the victim’s account number to write and cash two checks in his name totaling thousands of dollars.

There's two things you can do to stop this from happening:
1) Log into your cell phone provider's page and block your phone from being ported.

2) If you think your number's already been ported, remote wipe your iPhone by logging into your iCloud and erase your data.

For an android phone, log into your Google account linked to your phone and follow the prompts from there.

If you don't, a possible mess.

"You may have a heck of a time to prove to the phone company which is the right person. Are you the hacker or is the other person the hacker. Who does the phone number really belong to?," Crowetz said.

"I want to tell my story so that people can lock their phones. It's an easy thing to do," the phone porting victim said.

The victim is in his fifth week of recouping the lost money.

He had to file a police report, spend countless hours talking with his bank and bills that normally are automatically taken out of his account.