How to lock your SIM card to avoid SIM Swap Fraud.

Aunty M told me a sad story of how she lost close to a million naira to a fraudster who successfully swapped her SIM. She had recently started spending most of her time in England more than she was in Nigeria. One of those times she’d been away for a very long time, she started getting debit alerts via email, the debits were in quick succession and the fraudster was quickly emptying out her account. Not only did the fraudster succeed in emptying out her bank accounts, she also lost ownership of that phone number and was locked out of her main Gmail account.

SIM Swap fraud is big business in Nigeria for both IT skilled and barely skilled cyber criminals, as evident in the following screenshots of a recently arrested fraudster.

Just as asserted by this nabbed fraudster, all you can do to protect yourself is lock your SIM. This article provides the simple step-by-step guide to lock your SIM.

For iOS users, the 7 Simple steps are:

1. Call your Network Provider (MTN, 9Mobile or Glo, etc) to obtain your default SIM Pin and PUK (Personal Unblock Key)

2. Tap Settings and Tap Mobile Data

3. Tap SIM PIN

4. By default, the SIM PIN is disabled. To enable it, tap to toggle switch to the right.

5. A new settings page will appear, asking you to enter your PIN to activate SIM lock. You have only 3 attempts so please enter the correct default SIM PIN for your mobile carrier and tap ‘DONE’.

*Note if you’ve previously changed your Default SIM PIN to one you picked, you will need to enter that selected PIN at this stage and not the default SIM PIN set by your mobile carrier

6. If you entered the right PIN in the previous step, the switch will be shown in Green colour with its position toggled to the right.

7. Tap ‘change PIN’ and enter your preferred new five-digit SIM PIN. Like your ATM PIN, this should not be your Date of birth or an easily guessable sequence of numbers, but must be memorable. Confirm your new PIN and tap ‘Done’. Your SIM is now secure and you’re significantly protected from SIM Swap Fraud.

For Andriod users, the 7 Simple steps are:                

  1. Tap settings.
  2. Tap Additional settings
  3. Tap Privacy
  4. If you are using a dual SIM phone, select the SIM card you want to lock
  5. If LOCK SIM card is not activated, toggle the switch on by clicking on it.
  6. You will be presented with a “Lock SIM Card” page. If you haven’t activated a SIM lock before, you can use the default SIM PIN.
  7. Click on ‘Change SIM PIN’, enter your preferred new five-digit SIM PIN. Like your ATM PIN, this should not be your Date of birth or an easily guessable sequence of numbers, but must be memorable. After activating the SIM lock the toggle changes to blue. Your SIM is now secure and you’re significantly protected from SIM Swap Fraud.

We thought to mention also that all Mobile carriers have different default SIM PIN set to all SIM cards which you will need to use first to activate the SIM Lock. You are required to change this PIN to one you select, after activating this feature with the default PIN. But it has been discovered that the default SIM lock PIN is not working for some people, we are guessing they may have been changed it in the past. Although we do not advice that you try to input the default PIN up to three times with no success, but if this happens, your SIM card will get locked and you will be prompted with a page to enter your PUK (Personal unblocking Key). This can be found at the back of your SIM pack and with this, you can change your SIM PIN. This is the reason we have advised that you call the customer service number of your network provider to get both your PIN and PUK handy, before you venture into changing your SIM PIN.

Some Android versions may not work exactly with these steps but be rest assured that from your settings , you just have to lookout for security/privacy settings and you will find the SIM lock feature

For other Phones,

  1. Settings
  2. Security settings
  3. There, you will find your Sim Lock setting too.