Alert Number: CA054187_8/9/21(8/22)
The State of Washington Department of Financial Institutions has received complaints from Washington consumers who have reported that they have been victims of SIM swap scams. Consumers reported that they lost control of their cell phone device, and access to bank, email, social media, and other financial services accounts. The consumers claimed that they suffered financial harm during the period they lost control of their cell phone device.
SIM swap scams occur when a scammer pretends to be a legitimate customer of the cell phone service carrier in order to obtain a new SIM card. The new SIM card is connected to the real customer’s phone number without the real customer’s knowledge. Once the new SIM card is activated, the scammer uses the new SIM card on a phone under the scammer’s control. As the scammer now has control of the real customer’s phone number, all of the real customer’s phone calls, text messages, and data are directed to the phone under the scammer’s control.
Most consumers have their phone numbers connected to their bank, email, social media, and other accounts. As cell phone devices contain personal and financial information, losing control of phone numbers can cause lasting personal and financial harm.
The Washington State Department of Financial Institutions warns Washington consumers to take immediate action if they have lost physical control of their device’s SIM card, or completely lose service on their device or receive notice that their SIM card has been changed without their consent. Consumers should:
- Contact their cell phone service carrier immediately if the consumer believes they have been the target of a SIM swap scam.
- Check their financial accounts for unauthorized charges or changes. Consumers should immediately contact their financial institutions if they discover any unauthorized charges or changes.
- Contact their cell phone service carrier to see what additional security measures can be taken to protect their account.
- Take steps to protect accounts with personal or financial information.
- Not reply to telephone calls, emails, text messages, or other types of messages requesting personal information without first verifying that they are communicating with the legitimate company.
- Stay informed about current scams.
Important Information for All Consumers
If you feel you have been the victim of a scam you can contact the FTC at 1-877-FTC-HELP (382-4357) or online at www.ftc.gov; or the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) at 1-855-411-CFPB (2372) or online at www.consumerfinance.gov.
If the scammers already have your bank account information, social security number, or other personal information, you may be a victim of identity theft. You can contact your bank and the three major credit bureaus to take appropriate precautions. The FTC has information for victims of identity theft online at www.ftc.gov.
If you feel you have been the victim of a scam involving the internet you can contact the Internet Crime Complaint Center online at www.ic3.gov.
If you feel you have been the victim of a financial scam and are concerned about your personal financial information, you can contact your banking institution and the three major credit bureaus. Procedures for contacting the credit bureaus are available on the FTC’s website at www.ftc.gov.
Keep informed about common scams. Visit www.consumer.ftc.gov and click on “Scam Alerts” for information about recent scams.
If you live in another state, go to this webpage to find the regulator in your home state. http://mortgage.nationwidelicensingsystem.org/consumer/Pages/AgencyContacts.aspx.