BBB issues warning about new 'porting' scam

COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. (KKTV) - Criminals have found a way to bypass extra security settings for accounts you use on your smart phone.

The Better Business Bureau (BBB) is warning the public of porting scams. In just a few steps, criminals could steal your phone number and even your phone service. Have you ever had to change your bank account password by having your bank send you a text? What if you weren't the only one reading that text message?

A scammer finds out your name and phone number and then attempts to gather as much personal identifiable information (PII) as possible about you. PII includes name, address, Social Security number (Social Insurance number in Canada), date of birth, and other information that can be used for identity theft. They then will contact your mobile provider, impersonating you, and inform them that your phone was stolen and request the number be “ported” with another provider and device. In some cases, if they were really brave and in a retail location and/or online, they might even try to buy a new phone which could make a sales representative incentivized to quickly fulfill their request and forgo some formal verification procedures.

The scariest part? Once they have your number ported to a new device they can then start accessing and gaining entry to accounts that require additional authorization in terms of a code texted directly to your phone for security verification. Those added security measures are usually in place on accounts provided by email providers, social networks, tax preparation software, and even financial institutions

-Inquire with your wireless provider about port-out authorization. Every major wireless has some sort of additional security for accounts or for port-out authorization that customers can set up, like a unique pin, or add verification question, which will make it more difficult for someone to port-out your phone. Contact your mobile provider and speak to them specifically about porting and/or port out security on your account.

-Watch out for unexpected “Emergency Calls Only” status. Call your mobile phone company if your phone suddenly switches to "emergency call service only" or something similar. That's what happens when your phone number has been transferred to another phone.

-Be vigilant in about communications you receive. Watch out for phishing attempts, alert messages from financial institutions, texts in response to two-factor authorization requests.