Phone numbers must be private.
Phone numbers are exclusive and private pieces of information. In today’s world, phone numbers are identifiers. Cellular network carriers are able to identify and monitor the activities of each subscriber based on their phone number. Aside from that, these numbers connect users across a range of social media and internet capable applications and services. In the hands of an attacker phone numbers are dangerous.
What can attackers do with your phone number?
1. Mine your private data - by simply typing your phone number into another social media website they can find out more about you. They can also go to people search sites, like WhoEasy, Whitepages, or Fast People Search. People search sites purchase your personal information and sell it to people you don’t know. The information found through these sites includes your address, bankruptcies, criminal records, and family members’ names and addresses.
2. Another tactic is to contact your mobile carrier provider claiming to be you and telling them that you have lost your SIM card and have a new one issued to them. From there, the hacker will try to reset passwords for your account by having reset links sent to your phone number, which they now own. If someone has your phone number, they may be able to find enough information about you to get past the security questions with your service provider.
3. Spoof your number - Spoofing is when someone makes your phone number appear on a caller ID when it really isn’t you that’s making the call. There are apps and websites that allow scammers to simply type in a phone number and make a call.
4. Send you a texting scam - Scammers can also use your phone number to send you links that can infect your phone with malware or steal your personal information, or they can straight-up scam you by pretending to be your bank, the tax authorities, or your doctor.
How to protect yourself?
Protect your privacy - do not publish your phone number anywhere public, like social media. When in doubt don’t click on suspicious links. Use another way of getting in touch when you get a strange message from a contact or even from yourself.
If an attacker gets access to your phone number…
You might see that you have no signal from your provider at a place you should have/had before, for e.g in your home, in a city etc.. In this case:
● Contact your service provider immediately and explain the situation.
● Contact people you know to warn them about your phone potentially being compromised.