SIM SWAP: How it works and how to prevent such events if it transpires

Learn what SIM swapping is and how to protect yourself from this growing cyber threat.

Jun 19, 2023 - 17:20
Jun 19, 2023 - 17:23
SIM SWAP: How it works and how to prevent such events if it transpires
SIM SWAP: How it works and how to prevent such events if it transpires to you

In the digital era, the risk of personal data exposure on the internet looms large. As we adopt new technologies to make our lives easier, so 

do criminals devise ingenious methods to exploit them. Among these methods, SIM Swapping has emerged as a significant cyber threat. In this article, we'll demystify SIM Swapping, explaining what it is, how it works, and, most importantly, how to prevent it.

What is SIM Swapping?

SIM Swapping is a form of identity theft where criminals gain control of a victim's phone number. They port the victim's number to a new SIM card, allowing them to receive calls and messages intended for the victim. This type of fraud is also known as SIM jacking or SIM splitting.

With control over your phone number, the fraudsters can bypass two-factor authentication (2FA) or one-time passwords (OTP), granting them access to sensitive accounts, personal information, or financial assets.

How Does SIM Swapping Work?

The process begins with the fraudsters gathering as much personal information about the victim as possible. This can be anything from full names, addresses, dates of birth, or even security answers, often harvested from social media or phishing attacks.

Armed with this information, the fraudsters contact the victim's telecom provider and convince the operator that they are the account's legitimate owner. They may concoct stories about lost or damaged phones needing a number transfer. Once successful, they hijack the victim's phone number and receive calls and SMS messages.

The Aftermath of SIM Swapping

The takeover of a phone number is the initial step of the fraud. Once the fraudsters gain access, they can:

  • Account Takeover: Use OTPs or 2FA codes to access your banking, social media, or online store accounts.
  • Identity Fraud: Utilize personal documents and information to commit identity theft.
  • Phishing: Contact your friends, family, or colleagues for personal information.
  • Transaction Fraud: Spend your e-wallet credits or use linked credit cards for online shopping.
  • CEO Fraud: Impersonate executives to perpetrate more complex scams.

How to Prevent SIM Swapping

Protecting yourself from SIM swapping fraud requires effort from three main stakeholders: businesses, telecom operators, and individuals.

Stricter Verification from Telecom Operators

Telecom operators should enforce stringent verification procedures to prevent unauthorized SIM swaps. Some countries' regulations mandate operators to notify customers before reassigning their number to a new SIM card. If you are from Kenya like me and you suspect SIM SWAP fraud for your number please contact the folloiiwng numbers immediately:

  1. Safaricom: 0722000000
  2. Airtel Kenya: 0733 100 100
  3. Telkom: 020-2221000

Account Verification Using Digital Footprint Analysis

Businesses can add extra layers of security by analyzing user behavior, such as IP addresses or device configuration, to detect anomalies during login.

User Education

Finally, individuals must be vigilant and educated about the risks. Be careful with sharing personal information online, and use additional verification methods such as biometric authentication or email verification whenever possible.

READ ALSO: How To Track A Phone Number In Kenya


In an increasingly interconnected world, staying vigilant and adopting proactive measures is vital to safeguard our digital lives. Understanding the threats we face, such as SIM swapping, and implementing the necessary preventive measures can significantly reduce the risk of becoming a victim.


What is SIM Swapping?

SIM Swapping is a type of identity theft where fraudsters transfer a victim's phone number to a new SIM card they control. This allows them to bypass two-factor authentication and gain access to sensitive accounts.

How does SIM Swapping work?

Fraudsters collect personal information about the victim, then contact their telecom provider pretending to be the victim. They convince the operator to port the victim's number to a new SIM card, thereby gaining control over the phone number and the ability to receive calls and messages intended for the victim.

How can I protect myself from SIM Swapping?

Protecting yourself from SIM swapping requires vigilance and careful management of personal information. Avoid sharing personal details online, especially on social media. Businesses and telecom operators should also enforce stricter verification procedures. Utilize extra security measures like biometric authentication and email verification when available.

What can fraudsters do once they have control over my phone number?

Once fraudsters control your phone number, they can use OTPs to access your bank accounts, online shopping accounts, or social media profiles. They can also impersonate you to commit more complex scams, use your documents for identity theft, and spend your e-wallet credits or use linked credit cards for online shopping.

What measures are telecom operators taking to prevent SIM swapping?

Telecom operators can prevent SIM swapping by enforcing stricter verification procedures when customers request a number port. Some countries mandate operators notify customers before reassigning their numbers to a new SIM card.

Stay vigilant, stay safe. Knowing about SIM swap fraud and the preventive measures will make you less likely to fall victim to such cybercrimes. Please keep yourself educated and updated about the latest cybersecurity threats and ways to prevent them.

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Joseph Richard Joseph is a graduate of Mathematics and Computer Science (Applied Option). With expertise in Technology and Finance, he brings his knowledge to the field, demonstrating an authoritative understanding of these interrelated areas. Joseph is pursuing a Master's in Software Engineering, further expanding his skill set.