5 Things Hackers Can Do With Your Cellphone Number 
  Your phone number is easier to find than you believe, and cybercriminals can use it to access your personal data. People can use the number to find out personal information even without installing malware on your phone. They can find personal financial details, your date of birth, your current, and previous addresses, and even a map of your neighborhood. As any security expert will tell you, it’s very easy and very lucrative to get important details about someone with nothing but their number. Here are five things hackers can do with it and how you can protect yourself. ________________________________________________________________________________________ 1. Steal Your Identity  ________________________________________________________________________________________ The so-called SIM swap attack is very frequent and hard to stop. This is where hackers use the number of a high-profile individual (it actually happened to Boris Johnson) and impersonate them. Then, they ask to move the number to a new SIM card or cell phone service provider. To appear more convincing, they will also use the person’s date of birth, address, or other publicly available information. Once the number has been moved, it becomes active on the criminal’s SIM card, and they can start making calls and sending and getting messages as if they were the victim. To prevent this crime, phone service providers ask people to enter PIN codes if they want to change their device, but this has not been helpful so far. It’s not very difficult to get these codes – telecom staff are not immune to bribes anywhere in the world. ________________________________________________________________________________________ 2. Sell Your Personal Data ________________________________________________________________________________________ Sites like the White Pages and other directories are used to search for people online. However, like with all facets of technology, something that is inherently good can be used maliciously. It doesn’t take more than a few seconds for background check sites to reveal personal information. Then, they buy personal data and sell it. This data includes your criminal record, address, names and addresses of relatives, and more. Then, this information can be used for doxing, stalking, blackmail, and more. ________________________________________________________________________________________ 3. Spoof Your Number ________________________________________________________________________________________ Billions of scam calls are made every year. To make it easier to scam someone, cybercriminals have resorted to spoofing, which is when it only looks like a call is coming from you on the caller ID. This is done to trick someone you know into answering the phone. It’s very easy when the number of someone really close to you, like a child or parent, is spoofed. There’s no way you wouldn’t pick up. Once you answer the call, scammers have no shortage of tricks up their sleeve. Usually, the ultimate goal is getting your financial information. What’s even worse is that spoofing a phone number is incredibly easy. There are many sites and apps that allow users to type in a number and start calling from it. ________________________________________________________________________________________ 4. Reroute It ________________________________________________________________________________________ This is similar to the first risk listed in this article but with some small, essential differences. When a scammer reroutes your number, they get in touch with your cell phone service provider claiming to be you and get them to route your number to their phone. Then, they can access your email. They don’t need your password. They can just press “forgotten password,” and the password reset link will be sent to your number on their phone. They can access your information easily once they’ve gotten their hands on your email. All of your accounts are fair game from there. If a scammer has your cellphone number, they can get enough data on you to answer your security questions correctly as well as bypass other standard security features that different service providers set to stop criminals from switching phones. ________________________________________________________________________________________ 5. Send You Malicious Texts ________________________________________________________________________________________ Finally, cybercriminals can “smish” you. According to digital privacy experts, this is lingo for sending you malicious text messages. These texts can seem pretty standard, but they contain links that can infect your phone with a virus. The scammer can also pretend to be your doctor, a tax official, or your bank. Again, obtaining your financial details is the end goal. ________________________________________________________________________________________ How to protect yourself ________________________________________________________________________________________ To stop ill-meant entities from using your number to your detriment, share it with as few people as possible. Many services and apps ask for a phone number when you sign up as a way of verifying your profile. Be selective with your use of sites and apps because the more of them that get your number, the higher the risk of it being passed on to third parties, including platforms that aggregate data. In essence, nobody needs your number apart from family, friends, and your doctor. Google Voice offers the option of setting up a free virtual number, which you can use to forward calls to your phone. This way, you don’t need to make your real number known, and your data stays protected. Ask your cellular service provider to add an extra security layer to your account, like a password and a PIN number so it becomes harder for cybercriminals to reroute it. It won’t be impossible, but the effort of cracking the password might deter them. Don’t click on any links you get in texts, even if the text seems legitimate. If you get a text message from your doctor, credit card issuer, or bank, call their official number to verify they sent it. ________________________________________________________________________________________ Final Thoughts ________________________________________________________________________________________ Truth be told, it’s impossible to guarantee no hacker will ever get their hands on your number. By being aware of what someone can do with it, though, you can avoid being scammed. You can also keep them from spreading your data if they already have it.