Protect yourself, protect your mobile number

We’ve all heard about people who have lost savings because they’ve given their bank details to sophisticated scammers – we’ve become programmed to be wary of individuals requesting bank details and are becoming better at spotting those types of scams. 

But what about sharing your mobile phone number?

What if someone you ‘know’, someone who says they’re an old friend, or someone you’ve possibly “met” in the gaming world, contacts you and asks for your mobile number. As we constantly tell our children – you never know who’s at the end of that keyboard. The person contacting you, could in fact be someone you’ve never met before. 

So what?  What can someone do with just a mobile phone number? It’s not your account number or PIN after all. So you give it to them, it can’t do any harm right?

It’s time to adjust that mindset and start thinking about your phone in the same way that you would your bank card. Phone-paid services give you the ability to pay for content or services by adding the charge to your phone bill. It’s super convenient because to initiate that payment you just need your phone number. It’s secure because the merchant must verify that you are the owner of the mobile number to complete the purchase. 

So let’s go back to sharing your number online or in a text, you’ve handed over your mobile number because, after all, you’re friends right? 

Once someone has your mobile phone number, and if they are trying to use it to make a purchase, they will need you to verify the mobile phone number. They may do this by contacting you and asking you to do them a ‘favour’ – Their phone is out of action, they’ve made a purchase, or been logged out of an account and they just need someone to verify their number, so would you mind just replying to a message you’ll receive on your phone, or clicking a link? Don’t worry, the service has already been paid for by your ‘friend’, or it’s free, you just have to reply to the message. 

Think of your mobile phone number as any other payment method. If someone at the end of a keyboard asked you to confirm a charge – one they claim is already paid for – by entering your own bank PIN, would you do it?

This is exactly the same.

If you decide to reply to the message and verify a charge, then without handing over a bank card or PIN, you’ve inadvertently given someone else the ability to apply charges to your own phone bill.

To protect yourself, you simply need to;

  • PROTECT – treat your phone number like you would your bank or credit card details. Is the person asking for your number really who they say they are? And even if they are, would you trust them with your bank card?
  • READ –read any messages that come to your phone CAREFULLY. Phone-paid service texts always include the cost, or words like; pay, charge, or verify, and will ask for you to carry out an action like; reply, click a link or enter this PIN.  If it says you are going to be charged for something by replying, chances are you are!
  • THINK – If you personally don’t want to pay for the service described, don’t reply, click any links, or share any PIN codes.