FBI warns of criminals escalating SIM swap attacks to steal millions

The Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) says criminals have escalated SIM swap attacks to steal millions by hijacking victims’ phone numbers.

The number of complaints received from the US public since 2018 and reported losses have increased almost fivefold, according to reports received by the FBI through the Internet Crime Complaint Center (IC3) in 2021.

FBI’s warning comes after the US Federal Communications Commission (FCC) announced in October that it started working on rules that would pull the brake on SIM swapping attacks.
The FCC’s move is the result of numerous complaints received from consumers regarding significant distress and financial harm as a result of SIM swapping attacks and port-out fraud.

SIM swapping attacks behind millions in losses

SIM swap fraud (also known as SIM hijacking, SIM jacking, or SIM splitting) is a type of account takeover (ATO) fraud that allows scammers to take control of their victims ‘phone numbers.

The crooks do this by tricking phone service providers into swapping a target’s phone number to attacker-controlled SIM cards either by using social engineering or with the help of one or more bribed employees.

After the SIM is ported, the criminals will receive the victims’ calls and messages, making it very simple to bypass SMS-based MFA, steal credentials, and take control of their victims’ online service accounts.

The vast majority of SIM swappers are financially motivated and usually target their victims’ online banking and cryptocurrency exchange accounts to steal money and virtual assets, as well as lock the victims out of their accounts by changing the passwords.

The FBI also shared tips on Tuesday regarding how individuals can protect themselves and how mobile carriers can defend their customers from such attacks, as well as info on how to report SIM swapping incidents.

If you haven’t added an account security pin to your mobile service account yet, now would be a great time to do that today !!!

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