Identity theft can happen to you – and your mobile phone. It has even happened to the FTC’s Chief Technologist, Lorrie Cranor, and other FTC colleagues.
How does it happen? You might get a bill for a new mobile phone that you didn’t order. The thief used your personal information to open a new account. Or maybe your phone stops working entirely because a thief used your information to upgrade to a new phone and then shut off the phone you’re using.
What can you do to reduce the risk of mobile phone identity theft?
*Establish a PIN or password that must be used before making changes on your mobile phone account. Each carrier offers this feature in a slightly different way. Our Chief Technologist’s blog post has more details on the options carriers offer.
*Beware of phishing scams – Thieves may call pretending to be your mobile phone carrier, asking for codes from your phone or other personal information. Don’t give this information over the phone unless you initiated the call. And make sure to call your carrier at the number listed on your bill, not a number given to you over the phone.
*Monitor your monthly bills – Check your mobile phone and credit card bills each month for signs of fraud. If you see something suspicious, immediately contact your mobile phone carrier’s fraud department.
*Safely dispose of mobile phones – When you’re ready to get a new phone, don’t just throw away the old one. First, remove all personal information to make sure it doesn’t fall into the wrong hands. Then, consider recycling or donating your old phone.
And if you think you’ve been a victim of identity theft, visit IdentityTheft.gov to report the theft and get a personal recovery plan.
by Lisa Weintraub Schifferle
Attorney, Division of Consumer & Business Education, FTC