File picture: Afolabi Sotunde/Reuters.
File picture: Afolabi Sotunde/Reuters.

#AskGeorgie: Look out for MTN SIM swop scam

By Georgina Crouth Time of article published Jun 18, 2018

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Linda Kollmorgen, a consumer: Twice in the past six months my husband and I have had to deal with fraudulent activity on our MTN numbers.

The first fraud was perpetrated in January 2018, when we received two astronomical bills on my husband’s account.More than R1000 for two months, instead of the usual R75 a month. The number was used for the downloading of videos from a company called Nucloob in Cape Town.

The strange thing about the number to which these “supposed” downloads were done is that it is not a cellphone number that may be in common area usage, but my husband’s iPad, and the only people who have this number are MTN and myself. My husband is 84, has never downloaded anything in his life and has no idea how to do so either.

We immediately went with the iPad to MTN offices in Roodepoort and spoke to an assistant. It was confirmed that there had been no downloads to the iPad and eventually these debit amounts were reversed. I requested an explanation from MTN as to how an account number, only known to myself and them, could be used to download videos. I am still awaiting a response.

On April 19, I got a call from “Jason”, supposedly from MTN, who claimed to have received an instruction to make a SIM swop on my phone. When I stated I was dubious about this, I was told that MTN would send me a password to confirm the matter and I received same from “MTM”. I stupidly confirmed the password and within seconds, my phone starting beeping with deductions to various numbers.

I immediately phoned the same MTN consultant and he suspended my SIM card. Now realising that the above was my own stupidity, I sent a letter to MTN asking what process is followed when this happens and MTN have been given all the relevant numbers of the phones to which MTNMe2U and Price Plan Credit Limit had been transferred. Did MTN actually do anything about any of this fraud or not?

To date I have not had the courtesy of any response whatsoever.

Jacqui O’Sullivan, executive for Corporate Affairs at MTN SA, responds: “MTN encourages all its customers to be aware of a scam doing the rounds. In this scam, a supposed MTN call centre agent requests the customer’s security details under the pretense that they are blocking the processing of a SIM swop request that is being made on the subscriber’s number without their knowledge or authorisation.

“The scammers will then use the customer’s responses that they obtained during the call to perform a fraudulent SIM swop. It is important for customers to know that MTN will not contact customers from its call centre to block the processing of a SIM swop request.

“MTN is currently rolling out in-store biometrics as an additional layer of security to further halt such criminal activity. We have also introduced a secure (One-Time Password) OTP access to systems whereby users who are affected then have a clear tracking and audit log.

“Our monitoring systems give us a bird’s eye view of all related SIM swop activities. Customers should note that MTN only process SIM swop requests between 7am and 7pm. This is due to MTN’s focus on tightening up security measures in order to avoid SIM swop fraud. When performing a SIM swop, customers have a couple of options available to them. For post-paid: customers are required to visit an MTN store to activate their SIM swop, and they will be required to produce an ID document.

“For pre-paid: customers are able to process a SIM swop via a USSD code, call centre or by visiting an MTN store. When opting to visit an MTN store, subscribers will be required to produce an ID document. Subscribers who choose to activate remotely will be required to complete security questions.

“In our continued quest to combat fraud and scams, again we urge our customers not to respond to unsolicited calls and requests for their security details from an unknown number.”

* Georgina Crouth is a consumer watchdog with serious bite. Write to her at [email protected]

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