T-Mobile has unveiled a new SIM protection service that puts one more protective measure in place against SIM swap scams. This makes T-Mobile the first of the three major cell phone service providers to implement this level of protection.
Clark Howard believes this is a great step in the right direction toward better protecting your hard-earned money. In this article, I’ll explain how.
What Is SIM Swapping?
SIM Swapping, or a SIM swap scam, happens when a criminal is able to take control of the personal information stored on your SIM card by using it on another phone.
“Why would somebody steal your cell phone service? It’s all about two-factor authentication,” Clark explains. “Just about every financial institution is using some form of two-factor authentication. Most often, they’ll send you a one-time use code that allows you into your account.”
If someone has enough personal information to impersonate you, they may contact your phone service provider with a fake story. Often, this happens in the middle of the night.
According to the FTC, they may say your cell phone was lost or damaged. Then, they ask the provider to activate a new SIM card connected to your phone number on a “new phone.” A phone that they own.
Clark says that when this happens, your phone goes dead and their phone goes live on your number. Then, when they attempt to sign in to your bank account, retirement account, brokerage account, credit union account, etc., the two-factor authentication is sent to their phone.
“They put in that code that came to them instead of you,” says Clark. “And then they’re off to the races trying to wire money out, steal money any way they can from your account, and you have no idea what’s happened overnight.”
Fortunately, T-Mobile is stepping up with a new SIM protection feature that will make it more difficult for criminals to get a hold of your SIM card.
T-Mobile’s New SIM Protection Feature
As of December 8, 2022, T-Mobile has launched a new SIM protection service for its prepaid and postpaid customers. The service is completely optional, but it’s worth taking the time to activate.
If you go to a T-Mobile store or call them on the phone, you can put in place a SIM card block. It prevents someone from very easily being able to steal your cell phone service. And then, in turn, you stop them from being able to steal your money. This is really, really a great step in the right direction.
According to The T-Mo Report, you can put the block on individual lines or an entire account to prevent the SIM from being changed.
Customers can log in through the My T-Mobile website or via the T-Mobile app to enable the feature themselves. By default, the feature is turned off. That means you’ll have to enable it online or by talking to a T-Mobile representative.
Here are the steps to activate the new SIM protection feature:
- The primary account holder is the only person who can enable this feature for their own line or for other lines on the account. If you aren’t the primary account holder, you’ll need to ask them to log in and enable the feature.
- Log into the primary account holder’s account online or through the T-Mobile app. Click on “Account,” then “Profile Settings,” then “Privacy and Notifications” and then “SIM Protection.”
- You’ll see each line on the account listed with an on/off toggle. There’s also an option to toggle SIM protection on for all the account’s lines, which is highly recommended.
Keep in mind that you need to be the primary account holder or have been given full access permission to turn SIM Protection off or on. If you aren’t the primary account holder or a full-access user, the option for SIM Protection will not be available.”
Once the SIM protection feature is enabled, if you need to switch your SIM card, you’ll have to disable the block. Then, the SIM swap can be completed. When the block is active, you’ll have to verify your account using a one-time passcode. Most likely, this will be delivered via email or SMS to a line on your account.
So you’ve got an additional step to go through, but the purpose of that, the goal of it, is to prevent the theft of the money you’ve worked so hard to save and invest.
Clark goes on to so say that cell phone carriers have been really slow on the uptake about shutting down SIM swap scams. So far, he hasn’t seen an equivalent safety feature put in place from either AT&T or Verizon. “We need not just the three bigs to do this, we need for carriers of all shapes and sizes to do this.”
You can learn more about SIM swap scams here. Additionally, you can learn more about T-Mobile’s new SIM Protection online.