A dead phone can expose you to Sim Swap based banking fraud

27 Mar 2017


A mobile phone that is switched off for a considerable length of time, say the whole day, amounts to a big banking risk as criminals can use that downtime to do a sim swap and clean your bank account.

This comes from a  list of warnings issued by one of South Africa’s biggest banks First National Bank (FNB).

A statement quoting Kartik Mistry, Head of Smart Devices at FNB, notes that customers must protect themselves from Sim Swap fraud by always keeping their phones switched on.

This is because criminals can do a Sim Swap while the users’ mobile phone is off. Through a Sim Swap which can be done in a coule of hours, the criminals essentially divert all calls and messages to a different instrument, mobile phone, which they control. And so the banking customer won’t receive banking/safety alerts while the criminals are busy cleaning out the bank account.

The full list of warnings issued by FNB is as follows:

Download Apps from trusted sources

  • It is not safe to download Apps from suspicious or unknown sources as these can expose your mobile phone to malicious malware and viruses that can gain unauthorised access to your private information.
  • Install an up-to-date anti-virus application to your mobile device. Most Banks provide this free of charge to their customers.

SIM Swaps

  • Protect yourself from Sim Swap fraud by always keeping your phone switched on, ensuring that you have connection to the network and can send and receive messages.
  • As an FNB customer who uses the FNB Banking App, you get to use Smart inContact which allows you to safely approve Online Banking transactions on the Banking App, verify devices that login to your profile, and use secure messaging to immediately report any fraudulent transactions 24/7. 

Cellphone Banking 

  • Memorise your PIN, never write it down or share it with anyone.
  • Choose an unusual PIN that is hard to guess and change it often.
  • Remember, for your own security you are required to re-enter your PIN before each transaction.
  • If you think your PIN has been compromised, visit your nearest branch and change it immediately.
  • Protect your phone content and personal information you saved by using a PIN or password to access your phone. Do not leave your phone unlocked.
  • Avoid responding to competition SMS’s or MMS’s.
  • If you receive a phone call requesting personal information do not respond and end the call.


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