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How to Change Your Phone Number After Identity Theft

If you‘ve recently been the victim of identity theft or phone number hacking, one of the best things you can do to protect yourself is get a new phone number. Changing your number is critical to block scammers and hackers from continuing to access your accounts and exploit your information.

In this comprehensive guide, we‘ll walk through step-by-step how to change your phone number with your carrier and update it across all your major accounts, including Google, Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and more. We‘ll also provide key tips to further secure your accounts, watch out for phone scams, and take control of your identity after it‘s been compromised.

Why Changing Your Phone Number is Crucial After Identity Theft

Your phone number is a key piece of personal information that identity thieves target. Here are some of the main reasons getting a new number is so important after you‘ve fallen victim:

  • Stops account access: Many accounts use your phone number for two-factor authentication and password reset links. If criminals still have access, they can get into your accounts.
  • Prevents fraudulent activity: Thieves can use your number to open new accounts or take over existing ones. A new number cuts off their access.
  • Protects from repeat targeting: Once compromised, you‘re vulnerable to repeat attacks or hackers selling your info. A new number helps prevent this.
  • Improves peace of mind: Knowing your number is secure will help restore a sense of safety after the violation of identity theft.
  • Blocks SMS scams: Scammers also use numbers to send phishing links and texts. A new number stops these smishing attempts.

According to a 2022 identity theft study by NordVPN, 68% of victims had their phone numbers and SIM cards compromised. Additionally, 36% said hackers used their number to access financial accounts or commit other fraud.

This highlights how important your phone number is to your identity security. Let‘s look at how to change your number and update it across accounts.

Step 1: Getting a New Number from Your Carrier

Start by contacting your cell phone carrier to request a new wireless number. Here are quick overviews of how the process works with major providers:

  • AT&T: Get one free change within 30 days. After that, a $36 fee applies. Change online, in the app, or via customer service.
  • T-Mobile/Sprint: Receive one free change, then pay $15 per change after that. Contact T-Mobile support to request a new number.
  • Verizon: No limit disclosed on number changes. Avoid the $15 fee by changing in the app instead of through customer service.
  • Google Fi: Login online to your account dashboard and go to the Plan tab. Click on your current number and choose Change number. Follow the prompts.

When getting a new number, be aware it may temporarily impact services like voicemail, caller ID, and text messaging for a few days.

Step 2: Updating Your Phone Number on Key Accounts

Once you‘ve gotten a new number, the next crucial step is changing your number across any accounts that rely on your phone for verification. This includes:

  • Email accounts
  • Banking and financial accounts
  • Social media accounts
  • Retail sites and apps
  • Ride sharing services
  • Healthcare portals
  • Dating apps
  • Gaming accounts

Basically, anywhere you have used your phone number for account security, password resetting, or two-factor authentication.

Here are step-by-step guides for changing your number on some of the top platforms:

Google Account

To update your Google account:

  1. On your iPhone, open the Gmail app. On a computer, go to google.com.
  2. Click your profile icon and choose Manage your Google Account.
  3. Select Personal info > Contact info.
  4. Click the Edit pencil icon next to your phone number.
  5. Enter your new phone number and select Next.
  6. Verify your number through a text, call, or code and click _Verify*.

You can also remove old numbers here. Allow up to 7 days for changes to fully take effect.

Facebook

To change your number on Facebook:

  1. Click your profile icon and go to Settings & Privacy > Settings.
  2. Choose Mobile in the left sidebar.
  3. Tap Add a Phone and enter your new number.
  4. Pick your verification method and follow the confirmation prompts.

To remove your old number:

  1. Go to Settings & Privacy > Settings > Mobile.
  2. Select your old number and click Remove > Remove Number.

Instagram

Follow these steps to update your Instagram number:

  1. Tap your profile icon and go to Edit Profile.
  2. Select Personal Information Settings.
  3. Click your phone number and tap _Remove Phone Number*.
  4. Input your new number and click Next.
  5. Enter the confirmation code sent to your number.
  6. Tap Done to save changes.

Also set up two-factor authentication for extra security on Instagram.

Twitter

Here‘s how to change your phone number on Twitter:

  1. Go to Settings and Privacy > Account.
  2. Choose Phone Number.
  3. Tap Update Number.
  4. Enter and confirm your new phone number.
  5. Complete the verification steps Twitter requires.

TikTok

To update your number on TikTok:

  1. Tap your profile icon and select the menu button.
  2. Choose Settings and Privacy > Manage Account > Phone Number.
  3. Tap Change Phone Number.
  4. Verify your identity and input your new number.
  5. Enter the confirmation code sent to your number.

If your old number no longer works, you‘ll need to contact TikTok support for help changing your number.

WhatsApp

Here are the steps to change your number on WhatsApp:

  1. Open WhatsApp Settings.
  2. Go to Account > Change Number.
  3. Enter your old and new numbers in full international format.
  4. Pick which contacts to notify.
  5. Tap Done and register your new number.

Be sure to also set up two-step verification in WhatsApp for extra security.

LinkedIn

To change your number on LinkedIn:

  1. Click your profile picture and select Settings & Privacy.
  2. Choose Account access > Phone numbers.
  3. Click Change then Add phone number.
  4. Enter your new number, password, and verification code.
  5. Tap Done.

To remove your old number, repeat steps 1-3 and click Remove phone number.

Key Takeaways

  • Update your number anywhere it‘s used for account security, password resets, or 2FA.
  • Remove old phone numbers to prevent access.
  • Set up two-factor authentication using an app like Google Authenticator when possible for better security than SMS.

Securing Your Accounts After Identity Theft

In addition to changing your phone number, here are some extra precautions to further lock down your accounts after identity theft:

  • Enable two-factor authentication (2FA): Use an authenticator app rather than SMS when available for 2FA.
  • Change passwords and security questions: Update passwords on all accounts and set new security questions.
  • Review account activity and alerts: Routinely check accounts for any unauthorized activity and set up alerts.
  • Freeze credit reports: Freeze credit reports at Equifax, Experian and TransUnion to block thieves from opening new accounts.
  • Monitor your credit: Check credit reports and sign up for credit monitoring to detect any fraudulent accounts.
  • Shut down unused accounts: Close any old, inactive accounts you no longer use to shrink your threat surface.

Taking these steps along with changing your phone number can help secure your identity and prevent repeat attacks after identity theft occurs.

Watch Out for These Phone Scams

Criminals may continue targeting your phone number even after you change it. Here are some common phone and text scams to watch out for:

  • Smishing: Fraudulent SMS messages containing links or numbers to steal your information. These texts may claim your account is frozen or that there‘s a problem.
  • Vishing: Fake phone calls impersonating a trusted institution like your bank. They may threaten account closure or claim you need to verify information.
  • IRS scams: Callers claiming to be the IRS threaten arrest for unpaid taxes unless you pay up immediately via gift cards.
  • Robocalls: Automated prerecorded calls pitching products, conducting surveys, or offering fake prizes. Hanging up is best.
  • Wangiri: You get a call from an international number that rings once and then disconnects, hoping you call back and rack up fees.
  • SIM swap scam: Criminals pose as you and transfer or port your number to a SIM card they control to access your accounts.

Stay alert to these social engineering phone and SMS scams. Don‘t click links, provide sensitive information, or return calls if you suspect fraudulent activity.

Recovering From Identity Theft

Here are key steps to take if you‘ve been the victim of identity theft:

  • Request a new number from your carrier and update accounts, as covered in this article.
  • Check your credit reports at AnnualCreditReport.com and dispute any fraudulent accounts.
  • Consider an identity theft protection service like LifeLock or IdentityForce to monitor your credit and accounts.
  • Place a fraud alert on your credit reports to make it harder for thieves to open new accounts.
  • Freeze your credit reports with Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion to block access to your credit.
  • Report identity theft to the FTC at IdentityTheft.gov and file a police report.
  • Notify impacted institutions like your bank if accounts were compromised. Request new account numbers.
  • Change online account passwords and security question answers. Turn on two-factor authentication.
  • Watch for suspected fraud across financial accounts, benefits claims, tax returns, and medical records.

According to a 2021 Javelin study, victims spend an average of 56 hours resolving identity theft cases. But taking swift action to secure your accounts, monitor your credit, and change over to a new phone number can help minimize the damage.

The Bottom Line

If you‘ve had your phone number compromised through identity theft or a data breach, taking the step to get a new number is critical. Updating your number with your carrier and across associated accounts can block scammers from further access and fraudulent use of your information.

Coupled with freezing your credit reports, enabling two-factor authentication, and monitoring your credit, a new phone number helps protect you after your identity is stolen. It removes a key piece of personal information criminals could otherwise exploit. Remaining vigilant about suspicious calls and texts, securing your accounts, and being proactive in your recovery efforts are key to regaining control after identity theft.

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Streamr Go

StreamrGo is always about privacy, specifically protecting your privacy online by increasing security and better standard privacy practices.