You may have heard of someone who has had their credit card cloned and the problems that came with it.
Unfortunately, the experience is just as bad if you find that your phone has been cloned. Becoming a victim of this illegal practice can be extremely inconvenient and require a number of steps to resolve the issue.
In this article, find out what phone cloning is, how to detect this type of fraud and what can be done to prevent it.
A short overview of phone cloning
Generally speaking, phone cloning is the practice of hacking a cell phone to associate its identity data with another device.
This technique enables fraudsters to make calls anonymously, since the calls will be mistakenly assigned to the wrong recipient. It also enables the scammers to make free calls, since the bill will of course be sent to the person who owns the device that has been cloned. Both iPhones and Android phones like Samsung and Motorola are vulnerable to being cloned.
However, there are some latest generation devices, such as the Google Pixel that have proven to be more difficult to clone.
Phone cloning is considered a type of fraud in most countries. It is therefore an illegal activity, which can result in severe penalties.
However, you should be careful not to confuse illegal phone cloning with the function of copying the contents of one phone to another device.
How is a phone cloned?
To be able to clone a phone, a criminal has to have access to two particularly important pieces of data:
- The electronic serial number (ESN)
- The mobile identification number (MIN)
These two numbers allow mobile phone carriers to identify a device.
However, some fraudsters manage to illegally get their hands on these two pieces of data and then reprogram the chip of another phone so that it transmits this information to the provider when it is used.
When done properly, phone cloning can be used to conduct illegal activities anonymously or simply to make calls anywhere in the world without having to pay any fees.
How to tell if your phone has been cloned
If you suspect that your phone has been cloned, look out for various signs that someone other than you is using your cell phone service. Here are the signs that your phone has been cloned:
Receiving an unexpected text message asking you to reset your device
Rebooting your device gives the attacker a window of time during which they can load their phone with your cloned identity.
Unknown calls or texts appearing on your cell phone bill
If your phone has been cloned, all outgoing calls and texts made by the fraudster will appear on your bill. Keep an eye on your monthly payments and see if you are paying more than usual or notice any suspicious activity.
No longer receiving calls or SMS
If someone else has illegally gained control of your phone number, calls and texts may be diverted to the cloned device or you may lose your cellular connection entirely.
Receiving a message from your cellular provider indicating that your SIM card has been updated
If your credentials have been activated on a new device, your wireless phone service provider will likely send you a message confirming that your contact information has been updated. Consider this a major red flag if you did not initiate the change.
What to do if your phone has been cloned
If you are concerned that your phone has been cloned, you should call your mobile service provider as soon as possible.
They should be able to detect and block the cloned device, as each phone has a unique radio fingerprint, independent of the serial number you originally owned. They will likely also give you a new SIM card to fix the problem.
You can also report the incident to the authorities, who may decide to investigate the matter. As far as getting reimbursed for the phone charges incurred by the fraudsters, you may be able to get compensation by contacting the right people.
Recycell: your best resource for cell phone usage tips
In conclusion, even though phone cloning is not the most common cell phone problem, the serious consequences it can bring make it important to raise awareness.
If you want to get more tips on how to use your cell phone safely, please visit the blog section of our website.
You can even take a look at our used and refurbished cell phones that are on sale!