U.S. members of Congress have called on the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) to crack down on SIM swapping, a type of fraud blamed for more than $70 million in nationwide losses annually.
The letter sent to the FCC advocates for consumer awareness and making sure that mobile carriers will be held accountable when failing to secure their systems. Records show that the actual culprits in some fraud cases were the employees of phone companies.
“Consumers have no choice but to rely on phone companies to protect them against SIM swaps — and they need to be able to count on the FCC to hold mobile carriers accountable when they fail to secure their systems and thus harm consumers,” reads the letter, sent by Democrat members of both the Senate and the House.
SIM card swapping takes place when your SIM card is illegally transferred to a phone controlled by another party. It’s become increasingly simple for criminals to fool wireless carriers to transfer cell phone accounts to them. Fraudsters can then access a victim’s SIM card and hijack the security codes sent by text messages for online transactions as part of the two-factor authentication process, rendering this security measure worthless.
“For example, in May of 2019, the Department of Justice indicted several people who had exploited their employee access to the carriers’ computers to conduct SIM swaps that defrauded victims of more than $2 million,” the letter reads.
The best way to protect yourself against SIM attacks is to use a PIN or a password for your account, and most mobile carriers offer this option to their customers. You can also minimize the risk of a criminal posing as you by answering a security question or providing personal identifying information. Most importantly, in case your device is stolen or lost, immediately call your mobile service provider to disable the SIM.