Burned by ID thief, FTC's chief technologist urges mobile customers, carriers to bolster security

FTC Chief Technologist Lorrie Cranor's mobile phone account was recently hijacked by an identity thief, prompting Cranor to publicly recount her frustrating experience.
FTC Chief Technologist Lorrie Cranor's mobile phone account was recently hijacked by an identity thief, prompting Cranor to publicly recount her frustrating experience.

After falling victim to identity fraud, Lorrie Cranor, the Federal Trade Commission's chief technologist, warned mobile customers to beware of phone and SIM card scams, and urged carriers to introduce additional preventative measures.

In a blog post published yesterday on the FTC's website, Cranor wrote that an unknown perpetrator recently used a fake ID to impersonate her at a mobile phone store. After the scammer hijacked her mobile account and purchased two new iPhones, Cranor was wrongfully billed while her own phones had their SIM cards deactivated.

Cranor eventually regained control, changed her passwords and added an extra security PIN. In her letter, she recommended that other customers optimize their account security too, but also said carriers should “adopt a multi-level approach to authenticating both existing and new customers and require their own employees as well as third-party retailers to use it for all transactions.”

According to the FTC, in January 2016 alone, there were 2,658 ID theft cases in which a criminal either hijacked a mobile account or opened a new one in a victim's name.

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