Ottawa Police alert public to ‘SIM card swapping’ scam

Huntmar Police Station, March 2018
(Ottawa Police Huntmar Station)

SIM card swapping” is a scam affecting consumers all over North America and the Ottawa Police want the public to be alerted to this scam.

The scam goes like this — a fraudster, armed with personal information about a targeted victim, will call the victim’s cell phone provider. Knowing enough information about the victim, the fraudsters convince the cell phone provider that they are the targeted victim and ask to cancel the victim’s cell phone account and have the number transferred to another cell phone provider — a process called porting.

The fraudster will set-up an account with the new service provider and be able to use the victim’s cell phone number with that new provider.  As many online apps and accounts use a text message to re-set passwords, the fraudster will attempt to re-set the victim’s password on their email, bank accounts, store accounts, rewards accounts and social media accounts giving them access to your private information. They then proceed to access whatever funds and goods are obtainable. The police have warned that this will generally happen very quickly.

Here is how to protect yourself from this scam:

  • Speak to your cell phone service provider about extra security measures you can put on your cell phone account
  • Don’t respond to “phishing” emails that ask you personal information or ask for passwords to your accounts
  • Avoid posting personal information on line such as your SIN, date of birth, address, family tree information, pet’s name, etc.
  • Don’t use the same password for every online account you have
  • If you lose cell phone service, call your service provider and your bank immediately

The Ottawa Police point out that the Canadian Bankers Association has an excellent article about SIM swapping –


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