You would expect a phone number to be one of those things that is strictly yours and not used by anyone else.
Alas- that’s not always the case!
Fraudsters and hackers have for a long time now been able to breach mobile devices to access the owner’s details and also to use the numbers for fraudulent activities.
Even though the general population is increasingly aware of scammers nowadays, they persist in devising new and creative ways to catch people unawares and defraud them.
Therefore, it’s vital to check it out immediately if you receive a text suggesting someone has used your phone number to sign up for something that you don’t want.
This way, you’ll be able to fix the problem quickly before any actual harm is done.
On the other hand, there may actually be no fraudulent activity involving your phone number in certain situations.
It’s possible that someone could have accidentally mixed up your phone number with theirs during the sign-up process without realizing it.
As a result, you’re now receiving their verification text in error.
Therefore, it may be a good idea to give the user time to rectify the issue or call the other company directly to notify them of the mistake.
The user will usually notice quite quickly if they don’t receive any texts for verification, after which they will then cross-check the inputted phone number.
Another possibility could involve cheeky friends playing a prank on you (or someone with a similar phone number as you).
Whatever the case might be, never click on any links inside text messages to avoid being hacked or scammed!
Instead, call your service provider to place a complaint and have them look into the situation for you.
Keep on reading for more information on how someone might’ve been able to use your phone number without your permission!
Why Is My Phone Number Being Used By Someone Else?
Information provided by phone carriers has revealed that most people are using recycled phone numbers- which is also why your current number may have another name and person attached to it!
As such, it’s important to quickly contact your mobile carrier if you notice signs suggesting that someone could be using your phone number to sign up for unwanted lists or to make calls.
Find out your phone number’s call activities from your provider so that you can check whether someone has hacked the number.
It would be helpful to discover whether the user is the previous owner of the phone number or someone else entirely.
In addition, telemarketers are often guilty of using other peoples’ phone numbers to place calls without their consent.
This is because people tend to answer local numbers more readily than a telemarketers’ office line or out-of-town numbers.
As a result, the telemarketers will sometimes mask their identity using registered local phone numbers to call people in their district for business purposes.
This is, in fact, a legal marketing concept some companies use to make sales, and the process is called phone number spoofing (also called caller ID spoofing).
This method falsifies the caller’s information, thereby disguising the intent of the phone call until someone picks up.
Therefore if you’re recently receiving many angry phone calls or texts from strangers asking why you called, your number may have, in fact, been spoofed!
Is Phone Spoofing Legal?
Yes, certain types of phone spoofing are a legal way of conducting business under the United States Truth in Caller ID Act of 2009.
The act states that it is legal to spoof a phone number unless the person was “knowingly transmitting misleading or inaccurate caller identification information with the intent to defraud, cause harm, or obtain something of value through unfair means.”
The penalty for violating this act is $10,000. Therefore, unless there is evidence the business using phone spoofing is violating this act, their actions are considered legal (however irritating it might be!).
Who Else Uses Phone Spoofing?
Telemarketers are not the only ones who use phone spoofing for their business activities.
Other business ventures also use the method to get people to pick up their phones faster.
Experience has shown people will often choose not to answer calls from official phone numbers because they already know the reason for the call.
The following are other common agencies that utilize phone spoofing for their businesses:
Investigators frequently will use phone spoofing to gather information for the case they are working on.
The method grants them anonymity with which they can then interview people, and the call will not be traceable back to them afterward.
As mentioned earlier, phone spoofing disguises caller intent till it becomes too late for the recipient, and they pick up!
Collection agencies often mask their identities to call their debtors so that they can remind them to pay their debt. They are aware using their official number will make the defaulter not pick up nor return the missed call!
Scammers and Hackers
Scammers are constantly thinking up new ways and methods to scam people out of their hard-earned money, and phone spoofing is just one of the tools in their belt that help them in doing so.
Criminals are notorious for using the technique to acquire people’s sensitive information and then turning around and blackmailing them with it!
People are rightly wary of scammers and hackers, so they typically unleash their full wrath when they sense someone is trying to scam them.
Therefore if your number is being used to spoof calls to others, you’re likely to get quite the tidal wave of angry messages and warnings from them regardless of whether or not you’re the actual perpetrator!
Can Someone Steal Your Identity With Your Phone Number?
Another person can theoretically use your phone number to steal your identity.
It’s possible for a scammer or hacker to use a burner phone with a blank SIM card to call your service provider requesting a change of number.
If the scammer supplies the service provider with your information, they will likely convince them and get the rest of your details transferred to the blank sim card.
In doing so, the hacker will have obtained access to all your data and two-factor authentication text messages!
Once they have this information, they will then have full freedom to utilize your details without your knowledge.
Unfortunately, this can mean trouble for you when their actions are traced back. Thankfully, if you can prove you are not collaborating with them, the law will not persecute you in most cases.
To carry out this fraud successfully, the scammer has to be able to convince the service provider with your information in order to steal your identity. However, it’s likely that the service provider will try to contact you to verify your identity before approving the request.
Network operators have security and privacy training, so they will follow due process and contact you regardless of the scammers’ lies.
Even with these safeguards, it’s still extremely important to always make sure to protect your information adequately and to not give out your phone number willy-nilly to anyone, either online or offline!
Can You Stop Someone From Using Your Phone Number?
Most people are in possession of a recycled number and, as such, may have experienced a call from someone seeking the old user of the number at some point.
If you suspect that someone else is using your phone number, it’s important to first contact the phone carrier first to see if this is actually the case.
Follow our handy tips on what you need to do if someone is indeed using your phone number for nefarious purposes:
Create A New Voicemail
One of the first things to do would be to create a new voicemail message that states you’re currently a victim of phone spoofing in order to get angry callers to stop dialing.
As callers block your number, it will lose value to the scammer, thereby making them eventually discard it in favor of another.
Alternatively, if it’s an issue with a recycled number, leave a message notifying callers of the previous user’s change of contact number. It will take time, but eventually, they’ll stop calling as well!
Change Your Number
Another option is to change to a new phone number so that you can start afresh.
While a new number will give you much-needed peace, you will need to text your contacts and friends to alert them of the number change.
It’s an extra bit of hassle, but it is effective!
Report The Occurrences To The FCC
You can always contact the FCC (Federal Communications Commission) by filing a complaint on their website or calling their hotline for assistance.
Fill in all the necessary details and wait for them to take action.
How To Stop Someone From Using Your Phone Number To Steal Your Identity
Hackers usually phish for personal information by sending a fake text with a link that results in them obtaining sensitive information like usernames and passwords.
They may even call their target, requesting the victim to provide more information by claiming that they asked for the service.
Therefore, it’s important to always refrain from clicking on links that accompany suspicious text messages and instead contact the organization that is asking for your information directly.
Of course, go ahead and report the call if you sense something amiss, and protect your phone number from fraudsters at all costs!
Here are a few other ways you can stop someone from using your phone number to steal your personal information:
Create A PIN Or Password
Call your mobile carrier and request a PIN for your phone number, which you can then provide whenever you wish to make any changes to the number.
Protect the password and make sure you use it only with your verified phone mobile carrier.
Call Your Service Provider
If you notice anything weird happening with your number, call your service provider or mobile carrier and file a complaint.
Make sure you do not disclose any information or call any other number you are referred to unless you were the one who initiated the call.
Monitor Your Monthly Bills
Check your mobile phone and credit card bills as they come in and search for signs of fraudulent activities.
If the account doesn’t look correct, immediately contact your service provider’s fraud department and let them know.
Properly Dispose Of Mobile Phones
Factory reset your mobile phone before disposing of it to avoid the information on the device landing in the wrong hands.
A hard reset will wipe out all of your personal information, including saved passwords and sensitive details.
Make sure also that you dispose of the phone by recycling it with a repair e-waste collection service.
Do you know how to stay safe on your smartphone? Keep yourself protected with our Comprehensive A-Z Of Smartphone Security right HERE!