Canadian Woman Falls Victim to Wireless Number Porting Fraud While Travelling

A Winnipeg woman fell victim to a popular wireless phone number scam whilst on vacation in Australia.

According to a new report from CTV News, Allison Waedt was traveling in Australia when she received a notification that some of her PayPal account details had been changed. Upon returning to Canada, she also found out that her wireless phone number was stolen and used to open a new account with a different service provider.

“When I got back I tried to use my phone and my phone wasn’t working,” said Waedt, who then called her wireless service provider, Rogers, to find out what happened. She was told that her account was closed on November 6.

“And I said, ‘Nope. That wasn’t me,'” Waedt explained. “They said, ‘this is another fraud case.’ I also asked them, ‘how can you close my account without talking to me’ because I was just shocked.”

The process is called wireless number porting fraud, and while customers can legitimately move their numbers to different carriers, criminals are using it to scam unsuspecting victims, explains the Canadian Wireless Telecommunications Association, which represents companies that provide wireless service and products.

“Porting numbers allow wireless subscribers to keep their number when they switch service providers,” the CWTA spokesperson said in an email to CTV News. “This makes it easier for consumers to switch service providers and offers them greater choice.”

“Unfortunately there are criminals who seek to try and exploit these systems,” the spokesperson continued. “This is not unique to Canada.”

Bell, the wireless service provider that Waedt’s number was ported to, said its security team suspended the suspected account. Bell confirmed the fraudulent port, and the account was closed. Waedt has since had her number ported back to Rogers.

The CWTA spokesperson said its members meet regularly to review technical standards and procedures used to facilitate porting and meet CRTC imposed parameters.

“As fraudsters are constantly evolving techniques to try and take advantage of wireless consumers, our members continually strengthen their security measures and verification procedures,” said the spokesperson. “The standards and procedures for number porting are regularly reviewed and, when necessary, revised, whether to improve the process or address an issue such as number porting fraud.”