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  • Writer's pictureTara Grey

Changing Your Mobile Number Can Be Risky! Here's Why.

About 85% of the U.S. population owns a mobile phone. In many cases, the old landline that we always thought was a “must-have” has gone away and people use cell phones as their home phone.

Smartphones are like small computers that can be used for internet browsing, checking online banking, text messaging, and so much more than just making and receiving calls. They’re often the subject of a tutoring session because it can be complicated to learn all their features.

When you move to another state or use a new mobile service provider, it might be tempting to change your mobile number. Sometimes getting a new number is easier than trying to get the current one moved from one provider to another.

But there is a lot more risk involved these days with changing your number than in the “old days.” This goes further than the inconvenience of having to tell friends and family about the new number.

There are so many things tied to your mobile number these days because of the internet and technology that it could cause you problems and even result in identity theft.

What Happens to Your Phone Number After You Abandon It?

Why is it risky to drop an old mobile phone number? Because phone numbers get recycled by the cell providers. So, someone else could end up with your old number shortly after you abandon it.

Also, criminals know about number recycling and can look up some cell provider websites to see a list of available numbers. They can then search those numbers online and see if anything interesting comes up.

If they can find some other personal information online by doing a number search, then they might decide to grab that number and try to hack a few of the former owner’s accounts.

How could they do that just from a phone number? Because that number has digital footprints, being used in multiple online accounts.

How Prevalent Is This?

You may be surprised at how many abandoned mobile numbers are still attached to the former owner’s personal online accounts.

There was a study done by Princeton University on the risks of recycling a mobile phone number.

The study looked at 259 mobile numbers that were available to be used by new subscribers at two major phone carriers and found that 66% of them (171) were still connected to accounts held with popular websites.

What is Your Mobile Number Attached To?

Think of all the things that you get by text message these days. Not just messages from friends and family, but those automated texts for doctor’s appointments or shipping notices.

We type in our mobile number on a lot of websites and accounts set up for platforms like Facebook, Amazon, or AARP.

Following are just a few of the digital footprints your mobile number could be connected to.

Shipment Delivery Notifications

When you order on Amazon or another online store, you often get text messages about your order delivery to tell you when it’s being shipped and when it has been delivered.

If a criminal has your new mobile number and looks up the attached address online, they can know exactly when there’s something to steal delivered to your front door.

Multi-Factor Authentication Codes

One of the best ways to secure your online accounts is using multi-factor authentication (MFA). This is when you get a code sent to your phone and you have to enter that code to gain access to the site after you enter your password.

If you have any of those MFA codes coming by text message to your mobile number and don’t change them when you abandon an old phone number, someone else could get their hands on them.

If it’s a talented hacker, then that person could have all they need to gain access to your online accounts.

Password Reset Links

Some people have password reset links sent to their phone instead of email. This is another way a potential thief that has your old mobile number could get into your online accounts.

All they would have to do is get your email address by doing an online search of your old number. Once they have your email, they can try that on different sites until they hit one you use, and then reset your password.

Online Banking Notices

If you use online banking and haven’t changed your number on the site, then the new owner of your old mobile number could get your sensitive banking information through text messages.

This could lead to someone trying to rob you in real life if they see any large transactions.

Get Help With Mobile Tutoring & Security

Get more enjoyment out of your smartphone with a friendly personalized tutoring session from CompuTara. I can also help you better secure your phone and clean up digital footprints before you transition to a new phone number.

Schedule a mobile device session today! Call or text me at: 862-368-4893 or Email me here.


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