10 ways to avoid SIM-swap fraud

09 February 2021

SIM-swap fraud, number-porting scams and cellphone number thefts have been around for quite some time and have affected many people. Anyone can fall victim to these scams, so we compiled information to help you learn more about these scams and how to avoid them.

What is SIM-swap fraud?

It's a scam where a fraudster poses as the legitimate cellphone accountholder (by using fake identity documents). They request a SIM-swap from the real cellphone accountholder's mobile network provider so that they can have access to their account and number on a different device.

By doing this, the fraudster receives all the communication meant for the real cellphone accountholder, and can make and receive calls as the accountholder and receive their SMSs. If the accountholder isn't alert and doesn't act fast, the fraudster can act or transact as the accountholder, including requesting OTPs to use for fraudulent purchases.

It can be challenging to stay ahead of SIM-swap scams, especially while we're mostly working from places where we're connected to Wi-Fi. While connected to Wi-Fi, you often don't notice that you're not getting calls or SMSs because you're not connected to your mobile network. Not being aware of whether you're connected to your network puts you at risk. If you are connected to Wi-Fi, check your phone network regularly.

Tips on how to avoid falling victim to these scams

It's important to recognise warning signs. Here are tips to help you avoid getting scammed:

  • Check for mobile network signal loss on your cellphone. This may indicate that you have been the victim of a SIM-swap or number-porting scam.
  • If you lose signal permanently, contact your mobile network operator immediately. The first sign that you could be a victim of a SIM-swap scam is when your phone calls and text messages aren't going through.
  • Activate international cellphone roaming when travelling.
  • Always let your bank know when you're travelling abroad.
  • Don't click on unknown links.
  • Always install the latest security updates on all your devices.
  • Don't respond to competition SMSs or MMSs.
  • If you receive a phone call from someone asking for personal or confidential information, don't respond, and end the call.
  • If you can't access your accounts (your bank and credit card accounts) because your login details no longer work, fraudsters may have struck already. Contact your bank immediately.
  • You'll know you're a victim when your network provider tells you that your SIM card or phone number has been activated on another device.
Be alert and always think of your security first

For more information on fraud-related scams and how to protect yourself, please visit our mobile banking security page. If you don't trust transactions and activities on your Discovery Bank accounts, contact our Fraud team on 011 324 4444 straight away.

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