The global pandemic made 2020 one of the worst years in modern history, and death and devastation are still occurring in many areas of the world. And if the 2020 pandemic wasn’t bad enough, a group of UK hackers made it even worse for countless U.S. celebrities, including social media influencers, sports stars, famous musicians, and their families. But the hackers weren’t concerned about the Pandemic – they were orchestrating a hacking ring that stole over $100 million through SIM Swapping.
Ever since smartphone manufacturers eliminated the removable SIM card in their phones, SIM swapping has taken over. It’s a practice where a hacker contacts your cell phone carrier and convinces them that you have a new phone and need your SIM rerouted to the new SIM card. The hackers can pull this off because they got access to a lot of your personal information, so it’s easy to pretend that the call is for real. Once they have your SIM activated in their own phone, they’ll have access to your text messages, emails, financial accounts, passwords, and so much more, putting you in jeopardy.
The Damage Can Be Tremendous
Once a hacker takes over your smartphone through SIM swapping, your life will never be the same. Here’s why: the hacker will be able to hijack your financial accounts, impersonate you, create a new identity using portions of your personal information (known as synthetic identity theft), steal your bank account funds, and so much more.
They can also subject you to relentless stalking using your phone because they’ll know your location via GPS and can monitor all of our incoming and outgoing messages and even listen in on the phone calls you make and receive. Even worse, your phone number can provide them with your physical address, gain all types of personal and financial information about your family members, and many other criminal acts as well.
Here’s something else to be concerned about: the cybercrook will spoof your Caller ID and make it look like it’s really you calling someone, including business colleagues, clients, family, and others. Once they’re connected using your spoofed Caller ID, they can easily convince a family member or business associate to provide a credit card number for some alleged “emergency,” causing additional harm. That’s why it’s imperative to delete your number from the Internet.
How Did They Get Your Number?
Ok, so how did the cybercrook get your number in the first place? They probably looked it up on Google. Yes, Google. If you want to check this out for yourself, Google your name and see what information comes up about you. You’ll probably be amazed to see what type and how much information is available about you just by Googling your name.
The fact is, Google only gathers information and aggregates it – the information like your phone number and everything else comes primarily from people-search sites like Whitepages, Intelius, and US Search. Google also has billions of what are called Google bots crawling the web, searching for your name and all the information that’s attached to it.
Another way they get your phone number is from you – yes, you give it to them whenever you sign up for various online accounts or social media sites like Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn; you enter your phone number just like you’re asked to do. In addition, many of the smartphone apps you use collect information about you and distribute it or sell it to third-party sources unless you prohibit sharing your information under “permissions” when you sign up for a specific app or service.
Here’s another way your number is distributed: through a data breach, and it may be one you didn’t even know existed. Giant companies like Target and many social media sites, including Twitter, had data breaches in recent years, and all of their customer’s personal data was exposed. A data breach leads to identity theft, and if you’re a victim, it will become a lengthy, costly and frustrating problem.
Removing Your Personal Number from the Internet
Because most of the information about you on Google comes from people-search sites, your first step is to remove all of your unauthorized data from those sites. However, this could take a lot of time because there are more than 100 people-search sites, and each one has its own rules and regulations and methods for removing your information, including your phone number, and opting out. Sure, you could hire someone to do it for you, but it would end up being very costly because of the time involved. Regardless of how long it might take, it’s worth the effort.
Another key is to remove your phone number from social media sites like Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. Each social media site has an easy-to-follow method for removing your phone number, and once it’s removed, it’ll be less likely to show up on Google. Also, since Google gets its information from other websites on the Internet, you should contact any third-party website that includes your phone number and other personal information and ask to have it removed.
Finally, use a VoIP (Voice over Internet Protocol) line if you want to have a phone number listed on the Internet. It’s a way to prevent your personal phone number from being used. Some of the top ones include Line2, RingCentral, and 8×8, among many others.
Following the instructions listed, adobe will help remove your personal number from the Internet and keep your private information private.