Your number can be used in many malicious ways
Your phone number is an easy-to-find key that can be used by hackers and scammers to unlocking your personal data. They can also use your number in many other malicious ways.
I used to think that maybe, at best, a person could possibly find my name and address using my phone number. I was wrong. Recently, someone I don’t know used my phone number to find out the private details of my life, then emailed me everything they had discovered. With just my phone number this person found out where I live, my previous addresses, information on if I’ve ever been evicted, some personal financial information, a map of my neighbourhood, and my birth date. They even found the only speeding ticket I’ve ever had, way back in 2006. It was disturbing, to say the least. I felt, and still feel, violated. I reported the person to the social media site they contacted me through and blocked them, but is there more I can do?
After contacting some security experts for their take, it turns out that finding important details about someone’s life with just a phone number is incredibly alarmingly easy…and profitable. “In the wrong hands, your phone number can be used to steal your identity and take over almost every online account you have,” Veronica Miller, cybersecurity expert at VPN overview, tells Reader’s Digest.
There are several ways a hacker can use a phone number to turn your life upside down. Here are some ways criminals can target you.
Data mining the easy way
The easiest way to use your phone number maliciously is by simply typing it into a people search site. Sites like these can reveal personal information about you in less than a few seconds, according to tech expert Burton Kelso.
People search sites, purchase your personal information and then sell it to people who want your data, like hackers with your phone number. The information found through these sites includes your address, bankruptcies, criminal records and family member’s names and addresses. All of this can be used for blackmail, stalking, doxing or identity theft.
Rerouting your number
Another tactic is to contact your mobile carrier provider claiming to be you, said Miller. Then, the hacker can make it so your number routes to their phone. From there, the hacker will log into your email account. Of course, they don’t have your password, but they don’t need it. They just click “Forgot your password” and get the reset link sent to their phone that now uses your phone number. Once the hacker has access to your email account, it’s easy to gain access to any of your accounts.
While many service providers have some security features to prevent scammers from switching phones, if the person has your phone number, though, they may be able to find enough information about you to get past the security questions.
Here are another 12 everyday things that pose a huge risk to your security.