Phone 'porting' scam a new way to thieves to get your information

Phone 'porting' scam a new way to thieves to get your information
A text message to 911 will dispatch emergency service starting Monday. (Source: Pixabay)

(WWBT) - With the right information, a thief can hijack your phone number and then your bank account.

This scam is pretty much a worst-case scenario.

The Better Business Bureau says "porting scams" are a new threat everyone needs to know about.

The way it works is a thief find out information like your name, phone number, Social Security number and birthday. That information is out there for many of us, thanks to the data breaches at Equifax and Anthem. Then, with that information, the thief calls your cell phone carrier to tell them you are switching carriers but want to keep your number.

That's called "porting." The process takes 24 hours to complete meaning both your phone and theirs are functional with the same number at the same time.

Any text messages you get on your phone will be seen by the scammer too. That opens the door for the thief to take your bank account number, if you have two-factor authentication. They get the access code to your account, and can log in the same as you.

You can protect yourself by calling your wireless provider and asking for a porting authorization code.

Every major carrier allows users to set up a PIN or security question before porting can happen. While this scam is new, it is popping up enough to warrant a warning, so it's worth the extra time to set up that extra layer of security.

Copyright 2018 WWBT NBC12. All rights reserved.