Your online sharing can lead to a cell phone port-out scam

Porting happens when you switch phone service providers, but want to keep your old number. Scammers may have built your profile by that time.

A port-out scam—when scammers target your personal information to impersonate you and access your banking and other accounts linked to your phone—is a little-known scam that starts with you sharing personal information on any social media platform. 

Porting happens when you switch phone service providers, but you want to keep your existing number. Scammers who have built a profile on you through your social media posts or online questionnaires have discovered you use the same passport across all your devices. 

Now, they issue requests to port (or transfer) phone numbers to a different wireless service provider or request SIM swaps from service providers, so they can gain access to your phone number.

The hackers can either shut down the phone or use it to engage in additional criminal activity. And since our cellphones are often the gatekeepers of our lives—bank accounts, emails, pictures, phone calls, text messages and so on—they can even use the “forgot password” method. 

If you become a victim, it could wind up costing you lots of money and your privacy. 

How it works

Hackers start by trying to find information about you. They search for this information on social media sites or may trick you into providing this information by sending you phishing emails, phone calls or texts.

We linked many of our devices with our work devices; a hacker can also easily slip into your company’s network. 

If you suspect you are a victim of a port-out scam,

  • Call your provider to request a port hold on your account 
  • Create a PIN or passcode to access your account
  • Regularly change email and social media account passwords 
  • and use different passwords for each account.

To protect against a port-out scam, 

  • Don’t provide personal information over the phone 
  • Use a callback number provided by a telemarketer
  • Don’t overshare on social media 
  • Don’t use your browser to save passwords.


Terry Cutler

I’m Terry Cutler, the creator of Internet Safety University, an educational system helping to defend corporations and individuals against growing cyber threats. I’m a federal government-cleared cybersecurity expert (a Certified Ethical Hacker), and the founder of Cyology Labs, a first-line security defence firm headquartered in Montréal, Canada. In 2020, I wrote a bestselling book about the secrets of internet safety from the viewpoint of an ethical hacker. I’m a frequent contributor to National & Global media coverage about cyber-crime, spying, security failures, internet scams, and social network dangers families and individuals face daily.