Can a cell phone number be used by someone else?

Your Phone Number is Out There? What Can Someone Do With Your Phone NumberTable of ContentsThe Risk of Giving Out Your Cell Phone NumberSMS InsecuritySIM SwappingCan Someone Steal

Can a cell phone number be used by someone else?

Your Phone Number is Out There? What Can Someone Do With Your Phone Number

Table of Contents

  • The Risk of Giving Out Your Cell Phone Number
  • SMS Insecurity
  • SIM Swapping
  • Can Someone Steal My Phone Number?
  • How Do Scammers Get Your Phone Number?
  • How Much Info Can You Get From a Cell Phone Number?
  • 11 Ways How Can Scammers Use Your Phone Number
  • What Steps to Take if Scammers are Using Your Phone Number
  • By David Lukic
  • Mar 23, 2021

With the steady flow of data breaches, your cell phone number is probably out there in the wild and on the dark web. Scammers use cell phones for various scams and fraud. The question is, what can you do about it?

The Risk of Giving Out Your Cell Phone Number

Just about everyone these days has a cell phone, and it has become intrinsically linked to our identity. Identity thieves are always searching for new ways to get your information and use it for identity theft or fraud.

The most significant danger of handing out your mobile device number is that it could fall into the hands of a cybercriminal and steal information from cell phone. With so much information available in public records and sold on the dark web from data breaches, your cell phone number could link you to a lot of other personal or sensitive information like logins, usernames, passwords, and more.

SMS Insecurity

A lot of apps are linked to your cell phone number also. Using two-factor authentication is great and keeps things safer, but if you have compromised phone number, then hackers have the keys to the kingdom. Some SMS systems are insecure and hackable. Therefore, someone would potentially get that special code that is texted to you from an app, and they could log into your account and change the password before you even realize what is going on. It's crucial to use end-to-end encrypted SMS platforms for all your communications.

SIM Swapping

SIM swapping is another danger where nefarious criminals use SIM cards linked to your phone to steal access to your phone number and carrier account. This type of danger is very real and scary and usually involves social engineering to trick the phone company representative. By having your cell number, a scammer could trick caller ID systems and get into your financial accounts or call financial institutions that use your phone number to identify you.

Once the scammer convinces your carrier to port out your number, you may never get it back. Scam porting is a big problem for phone owners.

what can someone do with your phone number


Can Someone Steal My Phone Number?

Yes. Your phone number is out there on the web in various locations. Scammers can use stolen cell phone numbers and use it for two-factor authentication codes and other access to all your texts, apps, and other online accounts, they could have your cell phone number hijacked and do it through SIM swapping. This is how it occurs:

First, they buy a burner phone and pop a new SIM card into it. They then call your wireless phone carrier and pretend to be you. If the hacker has enough information to convince the person, they may transfer your service and phone number to that blank SIM card and the new burner phone. Now your phone number has been stolen, and you aren't even aware of it. All your texts, phone calls, and 2FA codes will now go to the hacker's phone instead of yours. If you have access to bank accounts and other apps tied to your phone number, they will now have access to that stuff as well. Many location-based systems will think it's you just by the scammer calling from your phone number. If hackers get this far, they can then change all your passwords and lock you out of your own accounts. Very scary stuff.

How Do Scammers Get Your Phone Number?

One of the most common ways scammers get your phone number is through the many data breaches and treasure troves of raw data found and sold on the dark web.

Another way is by picking through your trash and grabbing an old bill with your phone number on it.

Using a people search site, someone could glean a whole lot of information on cell phone numbers, such as any criminal records, past addresses, social media accounts, arrests, warrants, court cases, relatives information, and more.

How Much Info Can You Get From a Cell Phone Number?

It's actually quite shocking how much information you can get from just a cell phone number. The list begins with your name and possibly address. Some other things might be:

  • Past addresses.
  • Relatives names.
  • Where you live.
  • Your assets and how much you paid for your house.
  • All your criminal records.
  • Driving records.
  • Legal issues (bankruptcy, liens, taxes, court cases, lawsuits, etc.).
  • Travel information.
  • Social media accounts.
  • Other online accounts.
  • Email addresses.
  • Vital records.
  • Deep web and dark web records.
  • Mugshots.
  • Professional licenses.
  • IP address.
  • VIN number.
steal information from cell phone


11 Ways How Can Scammers Use Your Phone Number

Unfortunately, the power of your phone number is immense, giving hackers and scammers a lot of options to do bad things. Some of the most common are:

  1. Access your social media accounts.
  2. Text message or contact your friends and family to scam them.
  3. Spoofing your phone number and calling people you know to commit fraud.
  4. Text phishing messages to your contacts - this is called "smishing."
  5. Hijack your mobile phone number and take over your digital life.
  6. Commit identity theft pretending to be you.
  7. Access your online bank accounts or credit card accounts and take them over.
  8. Use your number for robocalls.
  9. Send phishing emails to your email account.
  10. SIM swap to steal your phone number.
  11. Access your voicemail.

What Steps to Take if Scammers are Using Your Phone Number

The best way to avoid this cybersecurity disaster is to prevent it from ever happening. However, if you suddenly find that scammers are using your phone number to commit fraud or scam others, you should take these immediate steps:

  • Contact your wireless service provider and report the abuse. Ask them to put a secondary password on your account so no one can take it over without the password.
  • Let your friends and family know that your number is being used in this way.
  • Stop giving your phone number out online and to anyone who requests it.
  • Stay clear of websites and apps that link to your phone.
  • Turn on two-factor authentication for all your accounts.
  • Get a phone number through Google voice which is not linked to anything else.
  • Never click on links in texts or email. Malware is often linked to text messages or email.
  • Use very strong passwords and never reuse them on multiple websites.
  • Use third-party authenticators when you can.
  • Update your security questions on all accounts including Gmail.

Do all you can to keep your phone number safe from hackers and identity thieves.

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Table of Contents

  • The Risk of Giving Out Your Cell Phone Number
  • SMS Insecurity
  • SIM Swapping
  • Can Someone Steal My Phone Number?
  • How Do Scammers Get Your Phone Number?
  • How Much Info Can You Get From a Cell Phone Number?
  • 11 Ways How Can Scammers Use Your Phone Number
  • What Steps to Take if Scammers are Using Your Phone Number

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David Lukic

David Lukić is an information privacy, security and compliance consultant at idstrong.com. The passion to make cybersecurity accessible and interesting has led David to share all the knowledge he has.https://www.idstrong.com/img/logo.pngIDStrong

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The Benefits and Risks of a Digital Wallet

Our modern digital world offers many technological conveniences, and one of them is a digital wallet. By now, you have probably heard of it and are most likely using it every day.Read More

How to Detect the Apple Pay Scam

How to Detect the Apple Pay Scam

Apple Pay is an app that allows you to pay for goods and services by using an iPhone, watch, or similar device. With Apple Pay, credit and debit card information is loaded onto your phone (or iPad or Apple Watch) and then tokenized, so your actual card data is not stored on your device.Read More

What is Shoulder Surfing, And How Can It Cause Identity Theft?

What is Shoulder Surfing, And How Can It Cause Identity Theft?

The FTC received4. 8 million identity theft reportsin 2020 alone, an increase of 45% from the previous year. There are various ways cybercriminals can steal your identity, whether that be through malicious software, false websites, or other online scams.Read More

Most Medical Collection Debt Will be Erased from Credit Reports

Most Medical Collection Debt Will be Erased from Credit Reports

If you have been waiting for your credit score to increase, don't lose hope. The major credit bureaus of TransUnion, Experian, and Equifax recently announced nearly three-quarters of all medical debt will be removed from consumer credit reports as early as July of this year.Read More

What is Google Smart Lock, and How Does it Work?

What is Google Smart Lock, and How Does it Work?

People use cell phones and tablets daily, accessing them throughout the day. Because cell phones, tablets, and laptops used by individuals and organizations hold secure information, they are password-protected.Read More

All You Need to Know About Emotet Malware

All You Need to Know About Emotet Malware

The world of cybercrime is constantly evolving. To keep your personal and professional networks and devices safe, you must know different cyber threats, how to spot them, and how to protect yourself.Read More

Weekly Cybersecurity Recap March 18

Weekly Cybersecurity Recap March 18

Cyber-attacks might not seem as threatening as a conventional in-person attack at your business or other building, yet a digital infiltration has the potential to cause evenmoredamage than a traditional break-in.Read More

Netfilter Firewall Module Linux Bug Permits Access to Gain Root

Netfilter Firewall Module Linux Bug Permits Access to Gain Root

Digital criminals are taking advantage of a Linux bug within a netfilter firewall module to gain root access. The digital security vulnerability within the Linux kernel can be compromised through a local adversary looking to secure elevated privileges on susceptible systems.Read More

Russian Hackers are Reusing Ransomware Hacking Tools Created by APT Groups

Russian Hackers are Reusing Ransomware Hacking Tools Created by APT Groups

A ransomware hacking collective that speaks Russian is zeroing in on gaming and gambling businesses with repurposed ransomware tools initially developed by APT groups.Read More

A Raccoon Stealer Weasels its Way Inside Telegram

A Raccoon Stealer Weasels its Way Inside Telegram

A trash panda that steals user credentials has made its way into the Telegram chat app. The Raccoon Stealer stores and updates addresses, creating a new avenue for digital criminals to transmit malware.Read More

Software Package Managers Laden with Security Weaknesses

Software Package Managers Laden with Security Weaknesses

Digital security specialists have discovered several security flaws within software package managers that have the potential to be abused for the purpose of running code that opens the door to highly sensitive information.Read More

6 Steps to Take if You Lose Your Passport

6 Steps to Take if You Lose Your Passport

Navigating your way through a lost or stolen passport can be pretty frustrating. If you've ever misplaced a valuable item like a set of house keys or a cellphone, you'll know that feeling of panic that sets in when you realize it may be gone forever.Read MoreShow More

How to Buy a House with Bad Credit

How to Buy a House with Bad Credit

Buying your own home is the American Dream, but it might seem out of reach to those with bad credit. However, the good news is, if your credit is less than perfect, you do still have options and in most cases, can still buy a home.Read More

How Secure Is Your Password? Tips to Improve Your Password Security

How Secure Is Your Password? Tips to Improve Your Password Security

Any good IT article on computers and network security will address the importance of strong, secure passwords. However, the challenge of good passwords is that most people have a hard time remembering them, so they use simple or obvious ones that pose a security risk.Read More

Top 10 Senior Scams and How to Prevent Them

Top 10 Senior Scams and How to Prevent Them

Senior scams are becoming a major epidemic for two reasons. First, seniors often have a lot of money in the bank from a life of working hard and saving.Read More

What is the Dark Web: Things You Need To Know Before Accessing The Dark Web

What is the Dark Web: Things You Need To Know Before Accessing The Dark Web

The dark web, also known as "darknet" is a portion of the internet that lies outside the boundaries of traditional search engines.Read More

Secure Wi-Fi and Wireless Technology Security Tips

Secure Wi-Fi and Wireless Technology Security Tips

Your Wi-Fi network is another handy access point that hackers use to infiltrate your computers, steal your identity, and grab your personal details.Read More

Adult Friend Finder Hacked, 412 Million Accounts Exposed

Adult Friend Finder Hacked, 412 Million Accounts Exposed

Six databases that were owned by Friend Finder Networks, Inc. suffered a massive data breach in 2016, which cost 412 million users their accounts.Read More

How to Erase Yourself from the Internet

How to Erase Yourself from the Internet

In this highly digital age, it is near impossible to erase all information online about yourself, but you can do a lot to remove online information and minimize your risk of identity theft or worse.Read More

Credit Freeze vs. Lock: Whats the Difference?

Credit Freeze vs. Lock: Whats the Difference?

The main difference between a credit freeze and credit lock is that while freezing your credit you restrict access to your credit report.Read MoreShow More

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