It has become quite easy to change your phone number these days. You can go to any mobile carrier to request a new number and they’ll simply update your phone with a new SIM card.
But before you recycle your mobile number there are some device security risks you need to be aware of.
These days, mobile phone numbers leave a digital trail across multiple accounts that you have, both online and offline. Just think of some of the common notifications you receive by text message beyond messages from colleagues, friends, and family.
Some of those automated SMS alerts include:
- Shipping delivery notifications from online retailers
- Pharmacy prescription refill notices
- Online banking alerts
- Medical appointment reminders
- Password reset links
- Multi-factor authentication codes
- And many more
Now imagine that any of those messages were to be received by a total stranger that had your old number. You might think that the average person would just ignore them, but the fact is that criminals scope out available cell numbers to look for personal data to steal.
In a study by Princeton University, it was found that as many as 66% of researched mobile numbers listed as available by carriers like Verizon and T-Mobile, were connected to accounts on major online sites (Amazon, PayPal, etc.).
When an unscrupulous hacker gets a hold of a mobile number that the former owner did not disconnect from their online accounts, they can perpetrate identity theft, credit card fraud, social phishing, and account takeovers.
Before you recycle an old mobile number, either business or personal, it’s important to follow these security steps to ensure you’re not handing over the keys to your online accounts to a criminal.
Change Your Number on All Cloud Accounts
The first obvious step is to update your phone number on all your online accounts. This sounds easier than it is because people often have their phone numbers attached to accounts that they may only use occasionally, so they forget all about them.
A good way to do this is to go through your normal daily flow of online activities, and on each website or cloud app, go to your account settings and ensure your old mobile number has been replaced with your new one.
Double Check MFA Prompts on Sensitive Accounts
For any particularly sensitive accounts, like online banking or retailers with your credit card stored, you don’t want to take any chances that the number hasn’t been properly updated in their system.
Take the additional step of double-checking the multi-factor authentication prompt or password reset link to make sure it’s being sent to your new number.
Call Service Providers to Update Your Number
You’ll also want to update your number with any local service providers, as they will also send text messages to you on occasion. An example of this is your HVAC provider, who may text a quote or send a message when a technician is on the way.
Contact Your Pharmacy & Doctor to Update Your Number
Doctor appointment reminders and prescription refill notices are text messages that you definitely don’t want to miss. Make sure that you contact your medical service providers to update your number with them as well.
Change Your Number on Social Media
There is a lot of damage a hacker can do to your reputation if they can get into your social media accounts. They can conduct phishing attacks on your friends and family, posing as you, as well as glean a lot of personal data about you and all your connections.
Social media sites like Facebook, Instagram, and others often have you enter a phone number when you sign up. Make sure you update your number on all of them.
Review Your Text Messages for Anything You’ve Missed
There will inevitably be some service providers or websites that you have completely forgotten about. Go through your past text messages to find any that you may have missed.
Send a Text to Friends & Family & Ask Them to Delete Your Old Message Threads
It’s easy for friends and family to forget you have a new number and just return to an old conversation thread on their phone to text you.
When you get your new mobile number, text your friends and family to let them know that you have a new number and to save this one to their contacts.
Also, tell them to delete any old conversations with you so they don’t accidentally pull that up and send a text to the old number. This includes any group texts. Give the same instructions to those in the group and have them remove the old number and add your new one.
Does Your Small Business Need Help With Mobile Security?
Mobile security can become a big problem for businesses that don’t have a strategy in place. Quantum PC Services can guide your Sturgeon Bay area business on smart mobile endpoint protection strategies that keep you and your employees secure.
Contact us today to learn more! Call 920-256-1214 or reach us online.