BBB warns cellphone users of port-out scam

According to Better Business Bureau, thieves are trying to access bank accounts by first gaining control of a person's cellphone. It's known as porting or a port-out scam.

"This happens when a scammer has your name and phone number and then is able to gather more information about you, like your address, Social Security number or date of birth. Then, they can contact your cell provider, impersonating you, and tell them your phone was stolen and request the number be 'ported' with another provider and device. Now they have control of your phone number," BBB's Veronica Craker explained.

BBB says this is a problem for all major cellphone carriers, and it's something everyone should be aware of. 

"Once they have your number ported to a new device, they can then start accessing and gaining entry to accounts that require more authorization, such as a special code texted directly to your phone for security verification. Those security measures are usually in place on accounts provided by email providers, social networks, tax preparation software, and even financial institutions," Craker added.

To protect yourself from this scam, ask your wireless provider about port-out authorization or port-validation features.

"Every major wireless provider has some sort of additional security 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," Craker said.

Also watch out for unexpected “Emergency Calls Only” status updates on your phone. That's what will happen when your phone number has been transferred to another phone. Call your cellphone carrier right away if that happens.

For more information visit www.bbb.org.

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