It doesn’t take much these days to change a cell phone number. The carrier can just insert a new SIM card, and your phone is ready to go with a completely different set of digits.
But before you recycle your mobile phone number or close a company cell phone account, you’ll want to take some important security steps.
Mobile numbers are connected to multiple online accounts, and having your automated text messages, password resets, and multi-factor authentication prompts going to a stranger can be a big security risk.
It turns out that the person getting your new number might be searching for numbers that are still connected to online accounts. Certain mobile carriers provide a list of available numbers on their websites, so all a criminal has to do is look for those that are non-sequential (indicating they’re recycled) and search them online.
There was a study done by Princeton University, and it was found that 66% of researched mobile numbers listed as available were connected to accounts on popular sites (Amazon, PayPal, etc.).
Princeton University study on the risk of recycling mobile numbers.
Before you decide to change or drop a personal or business mobile number, make sure you take the following steps to help prevent an account breach or identity theft.
Change Your Number on All Online Accounts
The first thing you’ll want to do to “clean” your old phone number is to change your contact details on all your online accounts. This ensures it can’t be used to reset passwords or get into one of your accounts.
Password reset links are often sent via SMS these days to the number you have set up in your account. So, all a criminal would need to do is search your number for a connected account and then attempt a password reset to log in as you and lock you out of your account.
It’s important to go through every account you have for websites and cloud providers and update your mobile number.
Update Your Multi-Factor Authentication
Multi-factor authentication (MFA) is supposed to protect accounts from being breached, but the one time it’s unhelpful is if the number that receives the MFA code is in the hands of the hacker.
Change your SMS number for any accounts you use with MFA and then test them to ensure the code is being correctly sent to your new number.
Change Your Number on Social Media Accounts
Social media is one account we don’t often think about when changing a mobile number, but many of them have you add your number when you sign up. It can be used for password resets and other account activities.
Go through all your social media accounts to ensure your new mobile number is entered.
Update Your Number at Local Service Providers
Certain local service providers will have your mobile number and text you things like notifications of a service call, reminders, receipts, and more.
These types of texts can contain sensitive information that a criminal could use for identity theft.
Call your local service providers, such as plumbers, contractors, HVAC service companies, etc., and update your phone number with them.
Contact Your Pharmacy & Doctor’s Offices
Prescription refill notices and appointment confirmations are often sent by SMS these days and can contain personal and sensitive information.
Make sure you’ve updated your number at your doctor, dentist, and pharmacy.
Review Your Text Messages for Other Accounts
Most people have more online accounts than they realize, and you don’t want to miss any that could leave your personal data at risk should a text message go to the old number.
Go through your text message history and look for any accounts or retailers that have sent you a text that you may have forgotten about.
Message Group Texts, Friends & Family from the New Number
If someone unscrupulous has your old mobile number, they may try posing as you and attempting to phish friends and family that accidentally contact you on the old number.
You can reduce the risk of this happening by texting your friends, family, and colleagues from your new number and tell them to specifically delete any old SMS conversations and save this as your new contact.
Don’t forget to do the same for any group texts. Text the group and ask members to remove your old number and add this new one to the group.
Get Help Securing Your Mobile Devices
Mobile devices can pose a security risk if they’re not properly protected. Texas I.T. Pros can help your Denton or Wise County business review your current mobile device situation and put a solid security strategy in place.
Contact us today to learn more! Call 940-239-6500 or reach out online.