Nowadays, we use our phone numbers to access our personal information. That starts from our bank account, social security number, doctor appointment, identity confirmation, to social media accounts. In short, our phone number is the key to all our life security.
But have you ever wondered what happens if your phone number falls into the wrong hands? What can people do with your phone number?
I can say that lots of things may happen. And all of them are not good at all. In fact, many horrible things could happen if someone takes over your number. Here are the most dangerous things that could happen if someone uses your phone number.
What can a stranger do with your number?
1. They can find your personal details
Here is what can someone find out with your phone number if it has been leaked in data breaches:
- Your identity
- Credit cards
- Facebook profiles
- Other numbers you have
- Your home address, and even more.
If there are no data breaches, that would be better for you. But even in these cases, some online search tools can scan the web and find data about people just like Google does. But they organize these details in a better way.
So, if you give your cell number to someone with a bad will, he’ll know more details about you than what your family members know. If that’s the case, try to remove your details from the web.
Spoofing is what can happen when someone gets your phone number. It means when scammers pretend to be one of your trusted contacts and call you to deceive you into revealing important personal information. That could be your bank account, social security number, business information, etc.… Or else, they can call one of your family members, relatives, friends, or anyone you know, pretending to be you asking them to do things for them.
Here is an example of what a stranger can do with your mobile number through spoofing. They can call your mother and say, “Hey mom, I need your social security, real quick?”. Then your mom will not doubt for a second that it was you. She wouldn’t have the time to think, and she would give them her social security number, thinking it was you. And by that, they will steal all her retirement money so quickly.
Even worse, they can call your bank and convince them that you’re having a problem with your credit card and ask them to change your password. BAM! And just like that, your account will be cleaned out in a second.
These scammers are so professional, and they adapt quickly to all sorts of technology. They are like chameleons, so it’s always hard to spot a scammer.
This means fraud sends you scam texts containing malware that can infilter your phone and steal all your data. Or they can send links to your email, and once you click on it, they can have your personal email, which mostly contains all your personal information. That may include details like your bank account, doctor appointments, company files, social security number to your social media accounts.
Besides, they have other tricks; they can pose themselves as your bank, IRS, Police and trick you into giving them personal information, including your social security and credit card numbers.
4. Sim swap fraud
This scam allows fraudsters to hijack your phone number by either calling your phone carrier impersonating you and telling them to swap your number in another SIM or they can bribe the carrier to do their dirty job. Once they have your number, they can steal all your money, take over your email and your data, and they can have all your social media profiles. This is scary and happening every day, losing it all in a blink of an eye.
Indeed, hackers can succeed in doing all of this by simply intercepting the codes that your bank, email providers, IRS, shopping websites, etc.… and sending them to you to confirm your identity and use it to have full access to your financial and personal information.
5. Tracking your phone location
Strangers can track your location if they get your phone number. But don’t worry a lot, it’s not easy for them to do it. Just don’t click on any link that strangers send you via texts or emails. So if someone has your phone number, he can send you a text message containing an infected link.
Once you click on that link, you will install hidden software on your device without even noticing that. That way, he will track you down wherever you go directly from his phone or a web platform.
This is scary, and it’s happening every day. Just imagine the number of creepy people sitting behind their laptops watching people. You don’t know their motives, and they can either enjoy watching people, which is still creepy and immoral, and what is more horrible is that they are studying your moves to pick the right time to kidnap and hurt people.
6. They can hack your phone
Some hackers use apps to hack into your phone and take it over. So they may spy on you and know your steps day by day. They will be able to know secret things about you and use them for their own good.
On the other hand, they can take control of your phone, and you won’t be able to use your phone anymore. You can’t call, you can’t log in to your email or any other social media accounts, you can’t log in to your bank account, you can’t do anything; in short, you will lose everything.
7. You can become a victim of pranks
This is one of many risks of giving out your cell phone number. Some sick people may impersonate you and call one of your friends or family and prank them. So, they may tell them that you’re kidnapped and that the kidnapper wants ransom money to bring you back. They could also say that you had a terrible accident and you’re in serious condition.
These horrible people can do such stuff without even caring about what people may go through because of their dangerous trivial pranks. One thing you can do here when being with friends you don’t trust is just hide the phone from them. They can just call themselves from your phone. That way, they get your number secretly when you’re away. And then, they can call you days and nights with pranks.
8. You can become a victim of blackmail
Many people suffer from cyber blackmail, and this happens when a scammer uses your phone number to search for the tiniest details about you. It’s just by putting your phone number in Google search, and all your personal information will appear such as:
- Your name
- Current address
- Previous home addresses
- The car you drive
- The company you work in
- Your social media accounts
- Your bank account
- Social security number
- Your family members as well
So these scammers may find out things about you that you’re hiding, and they will use it to blackmail you. Either you pay them, or they just put your secrets out to the world. Dealing with someone who got your financial details needs immediate reactions, and if that’s what happened, just call your banking company and tell them about the issue to secure your logins and transactions.
9. They can post a scandalous ad on Craigslist
Each year, many people report fake ads about them on Craigslist. This happens when someone posts an ad on craigslist and puts your pictures and personal cell number under the ad.
These advertisements are mainly sexual. So, they put devious sexual stuff about you, and they will say that you want deviant sexual pleasures. Believe it or not, this happens a lot, and many fall victims to this. That’s what someone can do with your telephone number on the Internet.
So imagine receiving sexual harassment texts and phone calls every day from strangers across the country, not once or twice. This, indeed, may go on for months or even years.
These fake ads may destroy relationships and could ruin your reputation. They may be posted by an ex-partner, a jealous neighbor, a jealous friend, a coworker, and mostly by a hacker who may be doing this to blackmail you into giving them your bank account information.
Preventing the risks of giving out cell phone number
Now, you know what someone can do once he finds your phone number. Here are the things you should do to avoid being hijacked. To begin with, never give your phone number to strangers. But if they insist, you can give them your virtual number that will forward calls to your phone. By that, you will protect your personal information. You can set up a virtual number for free through Google Voice or services like Burner.
Besides, limit providing your real cell number to only your family, friends, work, and doctor. More importantly, never ever click on links from unknown numbers. And if you get a text message from your bank, doctor, or police station. Also, don’t reply and instead call them directly to ask if they truly have sent you a message.
Moreover, never give your number in shopping stores, it isn’t dangerous to give out your phone number to people you don’t know. But of course, there are legitimate reasons for giving your number to do business or to contact someone.
Instead of sharing your number with others, ask yourself if this is really worth it. Never fill in your number on websites. But if that’s necessary, provide them with your virtual number. So, never ever give your real mobile number to people from online dating websites unless you know them well.
Furthermore, don’t log in to free Wi-Fi because it’s not protected, and it will be so easy for hackers to hack your phone. Make sure you install a good VPN in your devices, and that way, wherever you go and use the Internet, you are still protected, and your real IP address won’t be shown to others.
Best of all, the connection between your device and the Internet will be encrypted for higher levels of security. Last but not least, change your social media and email accounts’ passwords periodically.
Now, you know what strangers can do with your phone number. It does not matter how they can find your contact details online; you need to keep it safe. Of course, it’s a good idea to use an app that changes numbers when you need to verify your social accounts. But avoid sharing your cell number with anyone you don’t trust.
What can others do with your cell phone number? Can you just give your mobile number to anyone? Or should you keep it hidden from people and social media? And what are the risks when a stranger finds your contact details?