UK's NatWest bank has been drawing a lot of attention to itself in the past couple of days, after a radio reporter managed to hack into his colleague’s bank account and steal some money, with nothing but her mobile phone.
Of course, the entire ‘hack’ was just a demonstration of how fraudsters usually do it, prompting the bank to issue a statement saying it will improve its security measures.
A reporter on the BBC Radio Four You and Yours programme used his colleague Natalie Donovan’s smartphone to do a password reset, ultimately getting access to her bank account.
“We decided to investigate You and Yours producer Natalie Donovan. I was able to break to her account without knowing her banking customer number, PIN or any passwords,” he said. “That allowed me to transfer £1.50 to my own bank account, all because I had control of Natalie's mobile phone.”
The bank soon responded: “We take the security of your money seriously. The best way to protect yourself from fraud is to be in the know SIM swap is a genuine service which allows you to keep your existing phone number and change between different SIM sizes or phone providers.”
"This technique is becoming increasingly common for use by fraudsters and third parties. The ability to utilise your mobile phone number to receive and make calls, receive and send text messages as well as use any provisioned data allowance can be motivation for illicit SIM swap.”
Fraudsters usually get into the victims’ bank accounts through stolen phones, so if your smartphone gets stolen, or you fear someone might have SIM-swapped you (if you can’t dial or text for some strange reason), make sure to double-check.