SIM swap fraud – what is done to protect you

SA’s mobile operators are taking measures to fight SIM swap fraud, but not all the companies are equal in this regard.

New information emerged recently on exactly how Internet banking fraud involving SIM swaps is happening, and why Absa and MTN were targeted in many cases.

Weaknesses in the legacy SIM swap systems employed by the mobile operators were exploited by criminals, which assisted fraudsters to steal millions from online banking clients.

While fraudulent SIM swaps are only one of the steps needed to steal money from online banking users, better security around this system helped to limit this crime.

MyBroadband asked the mobile operators what they are doing to prevent SIM swap fraud.

Vodacom

Vodacom spokesperson Richard Boorman said that they implemented a range of security measures to limit SIM swap fraud. These measures include:

  • SMS notification of a SIM swap request – an SMS is sent to the SIM card for which a SIM swap is requested, which advises the subscriber to stop the process if they did not request it.
  • SIM swap delay – a delay of 2 hours between a SIM swap request and when the swap is done. This gives the subscriber time to stop the process after they are alerted about the request via SMS.
  • Dealer admin password security enhancement – Vodacom’s dealer channels are now issued with one-time passwords via SMS, as well as dual login requirements for SIM swaps. This significantly limited problems through this channel.
  • Business hours only SIM swaps – Vodacom limits SIM swaps to business hours only. This makes the detection and prosecution of fraudulent requests easier.
  • More aggressive identification and prosecution of perpetrators – A strong message is sent to Vodacom dealers and employees that SIM swap (and other) fraud will not be tolerated.

Vodacom is also providing banks with a database of SIM information, containing SIM swap dates, calls made on the SIM, age of the SIM, and the like.

Although this information is not effectively used by all the banks, it can help to build algorithms to flag potentially fraudulent online banking activity and stop transactions until they are investigated.

Cell C

Cell C said that it implemented new measures earlier this year to curb fraudulent SIM swaps.

“While we cannot detail these measures for security reasons, these new processes have been very successful in bringing down the number of fraudulent SIM swaps on our network,” Cell C said.

“Cell C continuously monitors and updates its procedures to react to any new modus operandi that criminals may use.”

MTN

MTN was asked what it did to combat SIM swap fraud, but the company did not respond by the time of publication.

More on SIM swap and Internet banking fraud

Industry insider reveals truth about Internet banking, SIM swap fraud

Why Absa, MTN clients were targeted in online banking fraud

SIM swap banking scam: what you should know

How scammers hack your bank account

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SIM swap fraud – what is done to protect you