Crypto Theft | How Not to Lose Millions in Bitcoin from Shady SIM Scammers
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A growing number of people are being targeted by scammers who use social engineering to get access to a person’s cellular account. Once they snag a person’s phone number, they can use it to steal bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies from their accounts. You can prevent this identity theft and money heist using preventative steps to protect your accounts.
How It Works
SIM scammers scour the internet and social networks to find a target’s personal information. It could be as simple as a Craigslist advertisement for a car that contains a person’s mobile phone number and a repair receipt with their name and address.
Armed with the personal details they have gleaned online, the criminal then calls their wireless carrier and pretends to be the account owner.
Believing they are talking to the actual owner, the carrier switches the owner’s phone number to a SIM card the scammers have in their possession.
Once this switch is completed, the thief has access to the user’s phone number, allowing them to make changes to online accounts that use their mobile phone for authentication.
Protect Personal Information Online
When posting online, be careful not to inadvertently share your personal information. Don’t assume that privacy settings will protect your information.
- Hide your phone number, full name, and address from your online posts.
- Review photos that may show your house number, mailbox, or license plate, and take a few minutes to blur those details before posting them for everyone to see.
Be Wary of Requests for Personal Information
Criminals don’t just look online – they also reach out to people via messaging, email, or on the phone.
On Facebook, they will list an item for sale and then ask for your phone number or personal details during the negotiation.
Identity thieves also will call on the phone and pretend to be a repairman or other service provider who needs your information to upgrade your plan.
Don’t give out your personal information even if you may think the call or message is legitimate. End the conversation and then call or message the company using the official contact information you find on a recent bill or the company’s website.
Use a PIN
Ask your wireless carrier to protect your mobile phone account with a PIN or password. Even if a thief has your phone number and your account information, they will not be able to change your account without this secure PIN or password.
Enable Multi-Factor Authorization
You should enable multi-factor authorization if your account supports it. This added layer of security requires the account owner to provide additional information to confirm they are the account owner. This extra step makes it harder for criminals to access your accounts. Just make sure you set up your email or use an app to authenticate your account and not your phone number. If a thief has access to your phone number, they also can gain access to your account.
Store Your Crypto in a Wallet
Most people buy cryptocurrency through an exchange like Coinbase. Once purchased, the digital currency sits on the exchange, easily accessible with a stolen username and password. Once a thief gains access to an account, the money can disappear within seconds, never to be returned.
The best way to protect your cryptocurrency is to store it in a protected wallet and not on the exchange through which you purchased it.
Cryptocurrency wallets are available online or in hardware form. These hardware wallets download your cryptocurrency details and store them in a device that looks like a USB drive.
Both hardware and software wallets protect cryptocurrency by using an encrypted private key that only you know. Once in a wallet, your cryptocurrency is safer from hacking than it would be on an exchange. Just make sure you do not give out your private key or store it in a way that a hacker can find it.