13 InvestigatesScam Alert


How identity thieves can hijack your phones and drain your bank accounts

Valley woman warns others of 'sim swap' scam
Posted at 11:59 PM, Jun 16, 2018
and last updated 2018-11-21 17:46:32-05

Identity thieves can easily hijack your phones and drain your bank accounts.

After a valley woman became a victim of "sim swap" fraud, she is now warning others to be more vigilant.

Lisa Song-Sutton caught the signs of identity theft early on.

"I immediately just had an awful feeling at the pit of my stomach," she says. "I looked down at my cellphone and it said no service and I thought that was really strange."

She tried logging in to her email accounts and failed. That's when she realized her information had been compromised. 

Lisa went to her service provider and a representative told her, "One of our employees inside our NY retail store accessed your account, manually bypassed the verification and switched your sim to another phone."

According to the FTC, thousands have been victims of "sim swap scam" since 2013. Crooks obtain your information, then call your cell phone provider posing as you, claiming your sim card is lost or damaged.

Once they answer basic security questions, your old sim is canceled and a new one is activated.

After getting control over your phone account, crooks can easily use it to access your online financial accounts.

"They were able to hack two email accounts and hack my Apple ID," says Lisa.

Luckily Lisa's case was solved within an hour before thieves were able to drain her bank accounts. But anyone can be a victim.

So what can you do to protect yourself? Contact your provider and set up a pin or password that is required before making changes to your account. You should also be wary of suspicious emails or calls. 

Another word of advice from Lisa, "I switched out my e-mail accounts so that way all of my online accounts are tied to an email address that is not easily guessable."

13 Investigates - Send us a tip
Do you have a story idea or tip for 13 Investigates? Fill out the form below.
Are you willing to go on camera?