I got a weird text from T-Mobile a few minutes ago:
T-Mobile Alert: We have identified an industry-wide phone number port out scam and encourage you to add account security. Learn more: t-mo.co/secure
Well, that does not sound good.
And it's not. Apparently thieves have found that American mobile phone providers are unusually helpful when it comes time to steal mobile phone numbers (called "SIM hijacking") or to port those numbers to third-party mobile providers. In both cases, the thieves now have a way to bypass any three-factor authentication (TFA) you may have set up with, for example, your bank.
T-Mobile at least offers a service called "Port Authentication" which lets you set up a 6- to 16-digit PIN that you must have to make any changes to your account—like, for example, getting a new SIM. After getting the text alert, and validating it with trusted online sources, I immediately called 611 and set up port authentication.
There are a couple of other things you should do:
- Lock your phone all the time, with something very hard to subvert, like a strong password. If you must use a convenience feature like iris or fingerprint authentication, make sure the phone still requires a password on reboot.
- Set your phone up so that it doesn't display the contents of texts or IMs when your phone is locked.
- Encrypt your phone, so that even if all your other security is bypassed, you won't be stuck.
Seriously, this all costs you nothing and can save you a fortune.