T-Mobile has recently been sending text messages to its customers to warn them about an "industry-wide phone number port-out scam."
The message is genuine and the threat is real, and T-Mobile displays the same alert on its website and app as well.
T-Mobile Port-Out Scam
The carrier tells Motherboard that it's sending out alerts to all of its post-paid customers but the warning has not reached everyone yet. The alert rollout is gradual, however, the threat is nonetheless real and can affect all T-Mobile customers.
User reports show that T-Mobile subscribers have been getting the warning message since January 18, which indicates that the scam has been going on for quite some time.
Port Out Scam Threat
The fraudsters behind port-out scams trick people by calling carriers and pretending they're the account holders and want to port their number to another carrier or receive a new SIM card for that phone number.
Once they get their way, the fraudsters can gain access to the victim's personal accounts tied to the number in question. While this fraudulent scheme is nothing new, it seems to be gaining ground and becoming more common.
By sending warning messages, T-Mobile wants to ensure that its customers are aware of this threat and are extra careful. The carrier is also encouraging customers to increase their accounts' security to better protect their sensitive information.
How To Avoid The T-Mobile Port Out Scam
T-Mobile's warning takes users to a dedicated page about the scam, prompting customers to add port validation by calling customer support. Port validation entails creating a passcode of up to 15 numbers and adds an extra layer of security. With port validation in place, if someone tries to port the number in question, they will not be able to do it without the passcode.
A PIN code ensures that only the person who set the PIN can port the number, call the bank, or gain access to other sensitive information linked to that number and account.
This port validation code is different from the password one uses for their T-Mobile account. It should be something entirely different, and something that would be hard or impossible to guess.
Other carriers offer similar options as well, designed to help customers protect their accounts. To take advantage of this extra layer of security, mobile customers can simply call their carrier's customer support and request assistance to set a PIN code or password for port validation.