One woman is warning smartphone users to be careful after thieves stole thousands from her account using an online banking scam.
Felicity Leath from Bristol lost all signal on her phone. When she rang EE they advised her to replace the SIM card, which she did, to find out thieves had nicked £6,000 from her bank, The Mirror reports.
When she tried to access her online banking she was told it was locked as it’d been logged in on another device.
Felicity told Mirror Money:
I finally reset and got back online, only to find £6,000 had been taken from three different accounts into one of my other accounts, and then had been taken from that single account over 8-9 transactions.
I called the bank straight away in a panic. They asked me a few questions and luckily they transferred the money back by the end of the week.
She says to other smartphone users: “If people find anything suspicious happening with their phone, they should call their bank immediately.”
Action Fraud have outlined how thieves ‘split’ or ‘swap’ SIM cards, as it’s known, in order to drain your funds.
Apparently they buy personal details from other criminals and use the banking details to set up a parallel business account in the victim’s name.
Then a second fraudster will buy a blank SIM and ring the victim’s phone provider saying the phone’s been damaged, getting them to cancel the old SIM.
While their phone is down the thieves confirm a bank transfer and empty the accounts.
Although EE advises anyone who suspects they’ve been a victim of fraud to contact them and the police, they seemed unaware anything had happened in Felicity’s case.
They repeatedly told her she’d already ordered a new SIM or that it must be a system error, she said: “Not once did someone tell me that someone had hacked my account and ordered a new card, otherwise I might have been a bit more on the ball with my banking.”
In a post on Facebook, she said the bank fraud team were more helpful, adding:
After spending hours on the phone to the fraud team, it appears that this is new and very common crime. If your service goes on your phone, call your bank first.
Action Fraud has a few tips for staying safe as well:
– Install anti-virus software
– Beware pop ups and files from unknown sources
– Disconnect immediately if you discover a virus
– Create multiple complicated passwords
– Hide your birth date, first pet and school on social media (fraudsters use these to answer security questions)
If you think you’ve been the victim of a scam you can report it to Action Fraud here.