Mobile Phone Fraud – Vulnerability in your Pocket

The mobile phone has now become an integral part of our lives. 

Photo of Sarah BarkerSince the late 1990s mobile phones have become increasingly popular and today, the overwhelming majority of people have a mobile phone. With the introduction of the smartphone – the devices are now even more valuable as they contain such a wealth of personal data. Fraudsters will often target mobile phones as a means of obtaining money, personal information and passcodes.

In the recent Fraud Survey conducted by THIRTEEN, there were many respondents who reported being a victim of mobile phone contract fraud. Most often, the first they knew about it was when paperwork arrived at the house informing them of their new contract. In some cases, the first notification was seeing the deduction on their bank statement. Fortunately, in most cases reported, the victims were able to cancel any fraudulent contract taken out and obtain refunds – BUT, and perhaps more worryingly, they were not able to discover how the fraudsters obtained their details in the first place.

A recent study conducted by an independent UK investigation firm involved contacting the major mobile phone firms and trying to obtain enough details from them in order to ‘port’ the phone number to a different provider. They posed as an account holder in order to expose weaknesses in the system. Most mobile phone providers did not give the necessary security information, but they did override some security steps due to the convincing nature of the caller. Enough information was gleaned in some instances to enable fraud to be carried out.

Contactless payments, which involve using the mobile phone as a means of payment for smaller amounts, were considered very risky by the general public when first introduced – surprisingly however the Fraud Survey did not show this area to be of concern to respondents.

Maintaining strong passwords and keeping a very close eye on any bank accounts linked to mobile phones remain the most important methods of security surrounding mobile phones.

Further information about the Fraud Survey 2016 will be available soon and more details are available on the website about other research projects and services.

For more advice on issues surrounding fraud protection and training, contact the #Choix Team.

Sarah Barker

Legal Investigation, Research and Training Consultant


T: 0330 321 1460