Clone Wars: The Phone Wars

cellphone31 150x150 Clone Wars: The Phone WarsDo you get frequent wrong numbers calling your cell phone? Have unusual calls been appearing on your bill? What about frequent hang-ups? Watch out: These are all warning signs that your phone could have been “cloned.” Other red flags:

  • Difficulty in placing outgoing calls.
  • Trouble retrieving voice mail.
  • Incoming calls constantly getting busy signals or wrong numbers.

The President and CEO of the BBB Serving East Central Texas, Mechele Agbayani Mills, recently warned, “It’s important to check your cell phone statements monthly–or better yet–weekly—to  make sure no one has hijacked your number. The earlier you catch it, the greater your chance of stopping the hacker in his tracks and fighting all the charges.”

How It Works
Hackers can acquire information by scanning the airwaves and making a copy of your phone. They use an interceptor, hardware and software to record your SIM card then proceed to make a phone exactly like yours. Once the cloning is complete, cellular systems cannot distinguish the cloned cell phone from the legitimate one.

The legitimate phone user then gets billed for the cloned phone’s calls and text messages while the scammer is hard to trace.

Tips to protect your phone from cloning  

  1. Never store or give out confidential information through your cell phone.
  2. Always set a pin that’s required before the phone can be used. Studies have shown that having a PIN code reduced fraud by more than 80%.
  3. Make sure that all mobile devices are covered by a corporate security policy.
  4. Use a pre-paid phone. Pre-paid phone users minimize their risk because the amount the scammer could steal is limited.
  5. Watch your statements closely. Check for changes in plan features or other charges you didn’t ask for. The moment you see an increase in charges, contact your carrier and dispute the calls.
  6. If you are on an auto-payment plan, it is even more important to check your cell phone bill regularly. Payment could be triggered before the bill is fixed, leaving you to deal with potentially thousands of dollars being withdrawn from your bank account.
  7. Call your carrier if you think you have been a victim of cloning fraud. If you do become a victim, cell phone companies typically have a fraud department whose sole job is to research issues like this.

Thanks to Mechele Agbayani Mills and the East Texas BBB for this information!

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About Holly Doering

Holly Doering has worked for the Better Business Bureau Serving Eastern Washington, North Idaho, and Montana for half a decade. Her areas of expertise include the CORE Values Program (Character, Optimism, Respect, Ethics) for Teens and Charity Review as well as writing and editing. Prior to that, she has written for two newspapers, a local magazine, and taught English at the community college. She is the proud author of a short story in ZYZZYVA literary magazine and has had good luck publishing lots of poetry. Each year she rolls up her sleeves and wades into the autumn Nanowrimo writing madness and has several unfinished novels to her credit.