SIM swapping is a growing concern, and all the carriers are taking these fraudulent attacks seriously by implementing new security measures. Sim transfer PINs require users to get a 6-digit pin from the carrier’s website before transferring a number from one SIM card to another. Here’s how to set up the transfer PIN on your number, and what to do if your provider doesn’t (currently) offer one.
What is SIM swapping?
SIM swapping – also called SIM hijacking – is a growing form of cyber fraud where malicious parties get ahold of your mobile phone number. They do this by convincing your carrier to transfer your number to a new SIM card that they have. From there, it’s easier for the malicious party to gain access to your email, bank account, and other crucial accounts.
Most people connect their accounts to their phone numbers now, and if the fraudster also knows your email and passwords, then your entire digital life is opened up to them. A prime example is two-factor authentication. Most sites use your mobile number to verify it’s you logging into the account, but that doesn’t help you much when the malicious party has your number.
As scary as it sounds, there are some security measures you can take to reduce the chance of this happening to you.
Verizon has two security features to prevent SIM swapping. One is the number transfer PIN, and the other is Number Lock. You will need to acquire a number transfer PIN every time you want to port a number out of the network, and Number Lock prevents a number from being ported at all. Here’s how to do it in the mobile app and on the desktop.
To enable Number Lock, follow these steps on either your mobile device or a desktop browser.
The Verizon app
- Open the My Verizon app and tap the Settings icon.
- Select Number Lock.
- Toggle on the option for every number you want.
- Sign in and go to the Number Lock page.
- Toggle on the numbers you want to lock down.
- Tap Save Changes.
With Number Lock on, your phone number isn’t going anywhere. You will have to come back to these settings and turn Number Lock off if you plan on porting your number at any point.
Number Transfer PINs are required by Verizon to complete a port. To get a Number Transfer PIN – when you do decide to port – just follow these steps:
- On your mobile device, head to the phone app and dial #PORT.
- You will be redirected to the mobile app or the Number Transfer PIN page on Verizon’s site.
- Provide this number to your new carrier within 7 days for your number to successfully transfer.
- This PIN works for any number on your account, so you don’t need to get one for every number.
AT&T also gives you several ways to get a number transfer PIN. Here’s how to get yours.
With your phone number
- Dial *PORT and follow the instructions.
- A PIN will be sent to you via text.
- Provide this PIN to the new carrier to port your number.
On the myATT app
- Log into the app and select People & Permissions.
- Tap Wireless and scroll down to Transfer phone number.
- Tap Request a new PIN.
- The PIN will appear on-screen. Write it down and provide it to your new carrier.
On the desktop
- Log in to your myAT&T account.
- Select People & Permissionsthen scroll down to Wireless.
- Select Transfer phone number and tap Request a new PIN.
- The PIN will appear on-screen. Write it down and provide it to the new carrier.
T-Mobile lags other carriers in implementing SIM transfer PINs, but they are finally catching up.. However, at the time of this writing the feature is still unavailable. That being said, T-Mobile does have Account Takeover Protection features that should stop a SIM swapping attack. Similar to Verizon’s number lock, Account Takeover Protection prevents numbers from being ported, and only the account owner can have the feature on or off. It isn’t quite as convenient to access as Verizon’s, but it is still worthwhile to do.
To set up Account Takeover Protection, follow these steps.
- Go to your My T-Mobile account.
- Click on Manage add-ons
- Scroll down to the Services section and select Account Takeover Protection.
- Select Continue at the bottom to save your changes.
Keep in mind that you will have the primary account holder to make these changes, and you will have to call T-Mobile in the future if you ever want to take the feature off.
You will need to use a desktop browser to get a transfer PIN for Xfinity Mobile. Simply follow these steps:
- Log into your Xfinity Mobile account and select Devices.
- Find and select the device/number you want to transfer.
- Scroll down and select Learn More next to the Transfer your number, cancel this line option.
- You will receive a text with the SIM transfer PIN. Provide this to your new carrier.
Once you have one SIM transfer pin, you can use it for all the numbers on your account.
Google Fi makes it easy to get a SIM transfer PIN. Just follow these steps:
- Go to the Google Fi app or the website.
- Under the Account tab, select Manage plan.
- Select Leave Google Fi and follow the instructions.
- When it appears, select Transfer your number to another carrier.
- Google will generate a PIN. Provide this to your new carrier.
What if your carrier doesn’t have a SIM transfer PIN?
In the event your carrier does not support SIM transfer PINs, you still have some security options available. Check to see if your carrier has something like the Number Lock feature that prevents it from being ported at all. If not, virtually every provider has some sort of security pin connected to the account. Make sure you set one up and make sure it isn’t obvious (like your birthday). Lastly, if you are using Google Fi or your account is otherwise connected to your email, make sure you use two-factor authentication. Ideally, use an authenticator app that doesn’t rely on your phone number.
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