Airbnb CEO Brian Chesky takes the stage at a 2016 entrepreneurship event. Airbnb claims it has resolved a privacy flaw involving recycled phone numbers and new account sign-ups. (Kurt Krieger/Corbis via Getty Images)

It’s a flaw that can result in account takeover, credit card theft and privacy leaks, and yet it has gone unaddressed for years on certain websites and online apps.

The scenario works like this: A mobile device owner attempts to register an account on a website or web app, using a phone number that was recently assigned to him by a telecom carrier. But that phone number previously belonged to a different phone owner who at one time also signed up for the same web service. Instead of creating a new account, the new device owner instead is logged into the account of the phone number’s original owner.

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