A stolen or lost sim card can be a big issue if you don’t take the necessary measures, as a hacker or thief can access your private information and use it for a number of misdeeds.
If someone puts your SIM card in their phone, provided the SIM is network compatible and unprotected, they may be able to impersonate you, send and receive calls and messages as you, use your data plan, access your social accounts, sell your information, and possibly gain access to your bank account.
this post goes over what someone can do if they get their hands on your sim card and what protective measures you should take to stop them.
- Can someone use your SIM card on their phone?
- Can someone hack into your bank account with your SIM card?
- Information hackers can get from a SIM card
- Putting your SIM card into someone else’s active phone
- Lending your SIM card to someone
- Should you hold on to your old SIM?
- What to do if your SIM card gets stolen
Can someone use your SIM card on their phone?
Whether someone can use your sim card in their phone depends on a few factors:
- Carrier lock: many phones come locked to a specific carrier SIM card. It means that the device can only be used with that particular carrier’s SIM. This restriction may be built into both GSM and CDMA phones.
In most cases, the lock can be removed by entering a numeric passcode provided by the carrier. The unlocking process takes some time, and if you’ve reported the stolen phone, the thief may not be able to request a passcode or unlock your mobile.
- Active and compatible SIM card: an active SIM card is ready for use and has a valid plan with a carrier. Your SIM card must be network compatible (2G, 3G, and 4G) and size compatible (standard, micro, and nano) to be used in another device. You can check the network and size compatibility of any smartphone on GSMArena.
- Pin code: if your SIM card has a pin code, another person will not be able to access it on their phone. However, most sim cards have a default pin code of 0000. Make sure to change it when you activate the SIM pin.
Here are a few things that a scammer can do with your SIM card:
- Impersonate you: hackers are always after your personal information. They can use that information to clone identities, online shopping, steal money, and build credit card debts.
- Send and receive calls and text messages: anyone with your sim card and contacts can send and receive messages to someone else. They can also receive phone calls and call others on your behalf without your knowledge.
- Use your paid service: spammers can use your account services such as messages, calls, and data that will be charged to your account.
- Create a Social Media Account: with your SIM card, anyone can activate WhatsApp or create social media accounts without your knowledge.
- Access certain personal information: even if the SIM card is inactive, they can still access any data such as text messages stored on your SIM card.
Can someone hack into your bank account with your SIM card?
SIM card scam is one of the hottest trends among scammer hackers. Not only do they obtain your personal information via your sim card, but also gain access to your bank account.
It starts with getting your basic information like name, email, and phone number. That info is used to gain access to more personal information like social media accounts.
The second step is phishing, where they send spam emails and messages with spammy links. Once they have enough information, they contact your cell phone carrier and pretend to be you. They report your SIM card stolen and get a new one in your name.
With the sim card, the possibilities are limitless. They have direct access to all two-factor authentication codes. That means they can access social media and email.
From there, they can obtain any information including your bank account number, credit card number, shopping accounts, and potentially your parent’s or spouse’s information too.
Information hackers can get from a SIM card
In a modern smartphone, most information is usually not stored on a SIM card. On an iPhone, contacts, and text messages are stored on iCloud, and in Android, they’re on Google Drive unless you explicitly choose otherwise. Pictures, videos, and other media are stored in the phone memory or SD card.
If you have an older phone, however, some data may be stored in the SIM card and hence may be easily compromised, unless your SIM card has a pin code in place.
In modern smartphones, messages are stored on the phone and not on the SIM card. Therefore, if someone puts your sim card into their phone, they won’t be able to see the messages you received on the old phone. However, they can see all the messages received after putting your SIM card on their phone.
The above only applies to text messages on your SIM card, not other services like WhatsApp and Telegram. These applications use your mobile number for authentication. So If your SIM card is compromised, the accounts are also compromised along with all messages and data on the platform.
Putting your SIM card into someone else’s active phone
You can place your SIM card in someone else’s active phone provided it’s not locked to a different carrier.
An unlocked phone is not tied to a specific network and can work with SIM cards from any network. Most modern devices are compatible with GSM (2G), HSPA+ (3G), or LTE (4G). These devices will work with any carrier.
The phone’s SIM slot size (standard, micro, and nano), however, must be compatible with your SIM card.
Lending your SIM card to someone
Lending someone your SIM card, either temporarily or permanently, can be risky. SIM cloning happens physically by placing the sim card on a card reader attached to a computer with duplication software.
Once your SIM card is cloned, someone can read and access anything that you can read and access through your SIM card. That’s even more dangerous than SIM card swapping, as in some cases, you may not even be aware of cloning.
A SIM card is like your social security number or email address for your mobile phone. You don’t just hand over your social security or email to someone else no matter who they are. Likewise, it’s not a good idea to lend your SIM card to someone else no matter how trustworthy they are.
Should you hold on to your old SIM?
If your SIM card has been successfully deactivated, there’s no point in keeping the card itself. The gold chip on the sim card cannot be recycled.
It’s safest to destroy a sim card instead of just throwing it away. Even deactivated, it may store some information like contacts or old messages. Take a pair of scissors to break the SIM card into small pieces before throwing it away.
If the SIM card is not deactivated, keep it in a safe location when you’re not using it.
What to do if your SIM card gets stolen
As discussed, a stolen SIM card is a risky situation, so you must take action immediately. Here’s what to do if your SIM was stolen:
- Report to the carrier: most snatching and theft cases happen at night, so it may not be possible to immediately visit a carrier store to deactivate and get a new SIM card. Therefore the first step should be to report the stolen sim card to the carrier. Once you’ve registered the complaint, the carrier will take appropriate action and block it temporarily.
- Get an old SIM card deactivated by ordering a new one: when you order a new SIM, your old one is automatically deactivated. Thus, ordering a new sim card is a good option when your sim card is stolen.
In case of theft, law enforcement agencies use IMEI numbers to trace mobile phones instead of mobile numbers. That’s because the thief can simply take out your sim and throw it away. However, there are a few ways to track your sim card that was stolen:
- Call your mobile number from another phone. That way, the carrier can trace the last known location of your cell phone.
- Find your mobile’s IMEI number on its original box. It’s given by the GSM network and is unique to every mobile device. IMEI number is used by your network provider to locate lost phones and prevent thieves from connecting to a network.
- Request assistance from your network provider. They can detect the change in the original SIM card and use the IMEI number to trace the new SIM card.
- Contact law enforcement and report your stolen cell phone. They can block your mobile device and the thief will not be able to use it for calls or messages.