Turn off your phone verification- A cautionary tale on account security.

The Incident

I’ve always considered myself an extra careful person. I check my bank accounts regularly, call the bank if there is a penny missing. I keep my software up to date. But as I soon learned, hackers have gotten more sophisticated with their approach, we are more vulnerable than ever.

And for me, it all started with a seemly weird alert on my device. One that we all may get very often. About someone trying to log into your Yahoo account. I brushed it off as just another run off the mill attempt to hack into my aged email account. But that is where things began to get scary.

The next alert I get is from Coinbase, my password was just changed and my attempt to verify my account by my driver’s license failed. I didn’t do any of it! And this is where things get worse. I pick up my cell to call Coinbase, only to realize that I have no service.

This started the painful process of finding a way to contact T-Mobile to look into my account since I currently have no landline, the was a nearly impossible process. Luckily I have a third party VOIP application called Text Now. While in the process of contacting T-Mobile, I receive another alert, ” a new phone number has been added to my Yahoo account.

I finally get a hold of the representative from T-mobile and they informed me that I requested a SIM card change on my account. I didn’t. It was then that I realized that I was the victim of a phone number take over. 

Even though I had a PIN set up, the hackers were able to exploit an online vulnerability through Tmobile which allowed them to use my phone number to possibly access my other accounts.

Set Up Multi-factor Authentication

My one saving grace (knock on wood) was that multi-factor authentication set up on most of my accounts. So as a word of caution, avoid using your phone number to verify sensitive accounts and set up multi-factor authentication as soon as possible.

There are few options available for both Apple and Andriod users, and some great third-party ones as well. I prefer Google’s Authenticator App. Also set up additional security and verification methods with your provider, if they don’t exist switch providers.

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About the author

Jan Morris

I am what some would call a "jack of all trades. I enjoy all forms of creative expression, I believe everyone has a story to tell and it is all worth listening to. My true passion lies the pursuit of creative knowledge and understanding.

For once you have tasted flight you will walk the earth with your eyes turned skywards, for there you have been and there you will long to return. -Leonardo da Vinci
Jan Morris a "Jack of all trades" worked with small with businesses, start-ups, Fortune 500 companies, and globally renowned industry leaders. His skills include Photography and Photo Editing, Web Design and Development, Video Production and Editing, Branding and Identity Design, and digital design deliverables.