That is if you want to prevent your bank account from getting EMPTIED without an alert sent to you.
While the incident in this BBC article happened in England in 2018, it can happen near you or to you altogether.
Whether you are in Asia or Africa, your mobile phone could become the tool of your complete desolation.
And this is how scammers, working secretly with corrupt people at phone networks operators, are doing it in the UK.
O2 and Vodafone
The BBC says staff in mobile phone shops have become key to the execution of “Sim swap” scams.
It cited Watchdog Live, which uncovered the scam through undercover filming which revealed that employees of two operators are bypassing basic ID checks.
It says at O2 and Vodafone, they are handing over replacement Sim cards to potential criminals.
How it works is once the criminals get control of a mobile number which belongs to someone else, they intercept SMS text messages from banks that contain security codes.
It is called ‘Sim swap fraud’ and in Asia, or Southeast Asia it is commonly known as ‘Sim cloning’.
Though there have not been any known cases of Sim clone in Malaysia, it may happen.
THE PC SOLUTION?
You cannot stop using your mobile phone for all the transactions that you normally do manually or through machines.
For example, you use your mobile phones for payment at shops and for money transfers.
With the single phone you can access all your bank accounts and if the Sim card is cloned, or swapped even momentarily, the details of your banking account could be exposed.
A solution is to never do mobile banking transactions on your mobile devices. Instead, do them on a stand-alone personal computer at home.
And of course, keep changing the computer’s password and the banking account password regularly.
Unless you have a very difficult to guess the password, that is. But in most cases, users have birthdays for a password. Or their passwords are 1234 etc.
With banks in Malaysia now offering various methods of sending banking codes, it is a bit safer to use a PC for online payments.
This brings us back to owning two phones. Mobile phones can be very expensive, especially if we are attracted to the latest technology.
But if you around and look at some phone shops, you may get a bargain iPhone 6 for cheap.
You may also buy it on credit, using your credit card, if it is from a major distributor.
On iPrice, an iPhone six is sold at RM419.00. Which is affordable for those who are keen to do all their banking and payment transactions using mobile technology.
Another way is to hold on to your older phones when you are upgrading. It is less costly to do so because you do not want your bank account to be drained!
Keeping your old phone to use it exclusively for banking transaction is a relevant idea. You can always keep it offline. You may on the phone when you want to make online transactions using the banking apps.
And you may not have a sim card on that phone while you may use it only with your home wifi or on the hotspot (from your other phone with internet).
TWO BANKING ACCOUNTS?
This is what very few people do. Have two banking accounts, one for online shopping and mobile payments, and one for savings and the other salary disbursement.
That is to say, the bulk of your money is parked in the account that you do not use for online transactions.
And if you are one of the netizens using your online account for online shopping, it is good to keep a second banking account with a minimum amount in the balance.
In our case, we keep an account with RM500 in the bank. This is used for online transactions.
A MESSAGE ON WHATSAPP
A message on WhatsApp explains how the whole thing (Sim swap scam) can cause you irreparable damages:
How does it work?
1 A new fraud called SIM SWAP has started. Your phone network will momentarily go blind / zero (No Signal / Zero Bars) and after a while, a call will come through.
2 The person on the other end of the call will tell you that he is calling from (your cell phone company) depending on your network and that there is a problem in your mobile network.
3 He/she will instruct you to Please press 1 on your phone to get the network back.
- Please at this stage don’t Press anything, Just cut or END the call.
If you press 1, the network will appear suddenly and almost immediately go blind again (Zero Bars) and by that action, your phone is #HACKED.
Within a second they will empty your bank account, thereby causing you untold damage.