Safely Recycle A Mobile Number

People change their mobile numbers all the time. When someone moves, they usually want a number A smartphone with a recycling image on the screen, held by a hand.that’s local to the new area.  Businesses often recycle their own phone numbers due to employee turnover.

If a mobile number doesn’t properly detach from the accounts it previously linked to, all those accounts are open to identity theft, credit card fraud, and other cybersecurity problems. 

66% of mobile numbers available through major service providers in 2021 still linked up to accounts on popular sites, such as Amazon and PayPal. Princeton University completed this study specifically to find out how many accounts could be hacked into.

When the former owners gave the number back, they didn’t reset their accounts with a new mobile number.  The next person to get the number by signing up for mobile service could then use it for two factor authentication breaches into those cloud accounts.

We so often use mobile numbers to authenticate our lives and identities, both online and off. Given that, when changing phone numbers, take the following steps to secure your accounts and identity from scammers and cyberattacks.


Remember To Change Accounts To The New Number

We all own a multitude of accounts, and each accounts demands we use a separate password.  Who can remember 100 passwords? That’s what most people must store, and most of those will be to a cloud service or website.

While nobody can memorize over a hundred passwords, hopefully you keep track of all your accounts somewhere.  Visit all of them to update your mobile number.  Most of these programs now use a text message sent to your mobile phone as a form of verification in the event of losing a password. So, if a scammer got your old number and you didn’t change over your accounts, they can reset your passwords to whatever they like.

Ensure your password resets go to you, not to someone who’s looking to scam you.

Update All Social Media Accounts

In terms of cloud apps and websites, social media accounts absolutely count.  However, many consider them a separate entity. On a fundamental level, though, they don’t work any differently.  In addition, they’re prime targets.  With a compromised Facebook or LinkedIn account, a criminal can send social phishing messages out to all your contacts. They’re trying to get access to sensitive data or just trying to scam them out of money.  However, it’ll be your name that takes the hit, and your friends suffering.

Most social media accounts let you change your phone number within their settings.  WhatsApp is tied directly to your phone itself, so do look up their special instructions instructions on changing your number to make sure you’re not compromised.

Go Through The Service Providers Who Text You

Service providers these days use texting for all sorts of communications.  Confirmations of payment, appointment reminders, sales notices, and shipping notices are just a few of the business communications routinely coming through text these days.

Might be surprising, but if those texts go to someone else, they can be used for identity theft. Be sure you check all the services you use to ensure they have your updated mobile number instead of the old one.

These offline services could include:

  • Plumbing or HVAC company
  • Dentist or doctor’s office
  • Pharmacy
  • Local retailer
  • Utility company

Check Through All Multi-Factor Authentication Prompts

Multi-factor authentication (MFA) is often seen as a difficult and inconvenient level of security, but a very safe level. And it is, right up until someone else can get access to the MFA codes because they have your mobile number.

As long as you’re still in control of the mobile number you used to set up your account, your account is safe.  Even if a scammer has your username and password, without the MFA code sent to your phone number, they can’t get in.  However, if a criminal can get those, they can easily lock you out. Once they have, undoing it is an absolute nightmare.

So, while updating your mobile number within all your online accounts, double-check for MFA and where it sends to.  You need to ensure that the MFA prompt has been set correctly to your new number instead of your old one.

Review Text Message History For Missed Accounts

Every single company out there really wants your mobile number as a condition of providing service.  There’s a variety of reasons for this, ranging from identity verification to marketing opportunities. However, what it means is that there will always be online accounts or service providers you forgot about.

Do you remember game accounts from years ago? How about the place you order Christmas gift delivery from once per year? Do scroll through your text message history to find any websites, cloud apps, or offline service providers that have your number so you can change it or close the account.

Text All Contacts You Want To Keep From The New Number

After all websites, accounts, and providers are updated, the next step consists of updating family, friends, and colleagues.  Accidental texts to your old number don’t work out very well.  At the least, you missed a message. At the worst, someone you know could be talking to a criminal while thinking it’s you. While this can happen in 0ne-on-one conversations, group chats can be an even bigger problem. Whether it’s family planning a get together or a group of business colleagues discussing sensitive information about clients, having everyone on the same page benefits all.

Send text messages from your new number asking all your contacts to immediately update their file on you with that number when they receive the text.  Also ask that they delete all messages with your old number so they don’t use it to reply by accident going forward.

Ensure Your Mobile Security

As everyone lives more and more on their smartphones, mobile devices become more tempting for malware and phishing attacks. Anti malware and anti virus programs for phone offerings proliferate, and represent the next phase of the cybersecurity race going forward.

Mobile devices are increasingly being attacked by malware and phishing. Is your device properly secured? Don’t leave yourself at risk, request a mobile security check to protect your personal data and identity.

Sign up for our monthly newsletter to get more valuable content delivered straight to your inbox!

To see if our Internet driven custom business phone systems are a good fit, contact us or call 866-550-0005 today!

Leave a Comment