Watch out for cellphone ‘port’ scam, says BBB


BURNSVILLE, Minn. – There’s a new and complex scam making its way into Minnesota, according to the Better Business Bureau of Minnesota and North Dakota.

It’s called cellphone porting or port-out scam. How does it work?

A hacker gets your name and phone number and then attempts to gather as much information as they can (name, address, Social Security number, date of birth). They then contact your cell phone provider, pretending to be you, and inform them that your phone was stolen.

They request that the number be “ported” over to another provider and device. Once they have your number ported to a new device they can then start accessing any account that requires additional authorization in terms of a code texted directly to your phone for security verification — anything from social media networks to bank accounts.

Often times, victims of port-out scams do not notice they’ve been hacked until the phone has no service, or they get an unexpected text message containing account authentication/access codes.

So what can you do? The Better Business Bureau of Minnesota and North Dakota has some tips:

– Talk to your cell phone provider specifically about porting and/or port-out security on your account. Every major wireless provider has some sort of additional security for accounts or for port-out authorization that customers can set up.

– Watch out for unexpected “Emergency Calls Only” status. Call your wireless provider 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. Contact the police and your financial institutions as well.

– Be vigilant about communications you receive. Watch out for phishing attempts, alert messages from financial institutions, and unexpected texts in response to two-factor authentication requests you didn’t initiate.

If you’ve fallen victim to this type of scam, the BBB encourages you to take steps to recover your identity. It’s also a good idea to file a report on BBB’s ScamTracker.