For COVID-19 updates, visit the official government website www.sacoronavirus.co.za for free.
A SIM swap is a process that allows customers whose SIM cards have been lost, stolen, or damaged to obtain a new or replacement SIM card while maintaining their original cell phone number. A fraudulent SIM swap is a type of fraud whereby a fraudster approaches a network operator/ service provider, pretends to be the customer and then requests for the targeted cell phone number to be assigned to a new or replacement SIM card. From this activity, the customer is no longer able to receive any calls or SMS’s.
The objective of a fraudulent SIM swap is mainly to intercept one-time pins (OTPs) sent by SMS for online, cell phone and internet banking transactions that are performed on a customer’s account. In other lesser instances, this practice is used to steal airtime balances in prepaid SIMs or loyalty points.
Fraudulent SIM swaps are happening through identity theft using a customer’s personal information obtained through:
- Phishing (fraudulent SMS, e-mail, and online messages or website postings to solicit personal information),
- Social engineering techniques (manipulating people into divulging confidential information),
- Theft of documents that contain your personal information.
The obtaining of a customer’s personal information is a crucial step that enables the fraudster to properly authenticate on the customer’s behalf i.e. answer all security-related questions that are posed by the network operator/ service provider before processing any requests for SIM swaps.
To safeguard yourself against SIM swap fraud, here are a few tips:
- Protect and safeguard your personal information by never disclosing any personal or confidential information such as login details, bank account details, PINs, or passwords to any source, including anyone who identifies him/ herself as a bank official or claims to represent your service provider.
- Treat any request for your personal or confidential information with a high degree of skepticism which includes any unsolicited phone calls, text, social media, or email messages from individuals asking for your personal information.
- Avoid oversharing personal information such as your date of birth, phone numbers, physical address, email address(es), employment details etc. on social media platforms as these are a source of information and often used to build up an information base on the intended victim.
- Be vigilant and always conscious of your cell phone’s connectivity status. If you realise that you cannot make or receive calls or you are not receiving SMS notifications, do not automatically assume that you have a problem with your network or handset. Contact the Vodacom customer care line on 082135 and enquire whether a SIM swap has been requested or processed on your number.
- Remember that a fraudster will sometimes try to frustrate you before requesting a fraudulent SIM swap on your number, by making nuisance calls to you in the hope that this will lead you to turn your phone off and therefore be unaware of any SMS notifications sent to you or connectivity issues with your number.
- Never ignore an SMS message alerting you to a pending SIM swap request on your number. Contact our customer care line on 082135 immediately to confirm that all is in order.
- Should you receive a call or SMS from a source purporting to be your service provider requesting that you ignore a SIM swap notification, immediately contact us on 082135 to report this.
- Do not click on any attachment or links provided in emails, especially emails that purport to come from your bank or financial institution.
Read more about fraud prevention here.