Skip to content

SIM Swap Detection: A Key Factor in Fraud Prevention

July 19, 2021

Telesign Team
Multiple SIM cards clustered on a blue surface

What is SIM Swapping?

SIM swapping is essentially phone number theft. Fraudsters find out personal information about a victim, and then use that information to convince the victim’s wireless carrier to port their phone number over to a SIM card in the fraudster’s possession. Most of us have our phone numbers linked to our bank, email, and social media accounts, which is a goldmine to scammers, and why it’s so easy for them to conduct account takeovers (ATOs).

It’s one of the most damaging types of fraud imaginable because it gives fraudsters control over a user’s device. Criminals can drain accounts, purchase products, and
transfer money all in a matter of a few hours. Very often, these ATOs are carried out by compromising common two-factor authentication methods, including SMS OTP (one-time password), which is the method by which a numeric or alphanumeric code is sent to a mobile number.

With the onset of the Covid-19 pandemic and a shift to more digital applications, SIM swap fraud continues to be a threat with serious financial consequences. Many people are unaware of how prevalent it’s become; reports of SIM swap fraud have gone up by 400% in five years, and just last year in the U.S., SIM swap criminals stole more than $100 million in cryptocurrencies by hijacking phone numbers.

A person using a smartphone.

Many companies think wireless carriers are actively monitoring and stopping these kinds of attacks, but researchers at Princeton University found that 4 out of 5 SIM swap attempts are successful because major carriers are using insecure authentication, allowing a potential attacker to make a SIM swap happen even if they fail numerous challenges.

Signs of a SIM Swap Attack

Your customers may be victims of SIM swap fraud if:

– Their phone number stops working and they are no longer able to make calls or send text messages

– They’re no longer able to log into bank accounts or see transactions that they didn’t make

– They receive a security alert email that login attempts were made from a different or unfamiliar location or device

How to Protect Your Business with SIM Swap Detection

Telesign’s PhoneID API allows you to get detailed and actionable global phone number and subscriber data intelligence to strengthen authentications, evaluate fraud risks, and enhance the user experience. The SIM Swap functionality allows you to find out whether the SIM for a given phone number has been swapped and if so, at what point. In addition, Telesign evaluates how likely it is that the SIM swap was for a fraudulent reason using a scale from 1-4, allowing you to tailor SIM swap monitoring to any situation.

Join Telesign and NICE Actimize on Friday, July 23, 2021 for an Innovation Spotlight Webinar to learn more about Phone ID and how you can prevent SIM swap attacks.