SIM cards do great things in the right hands, but can also wreak havoc in the wrong ones. Most people, we included, don’t doubt people around us. However, throughout this article, we’ll remind you that curious or jealous partners, stalkers, pranksters, or evil people do exist. You’ll also start paying more attention in public to prevent many of these wrongdoings afterward. We’re not trying to scare you, only make you aware that a perpetrator might go through the whole list to cause as much damage as possible and/or reap benefits. With that said, let’s answer, ”what can someone do with your SIM card?”
1. Insert the SIM card into their device
We’ll start with a benign action that you usually request yourself – asking someone to insert your SIM card into their smart device or laptop. The reasons for this can vary. Common ones include checking network connectivity or signal strength. Also, you might want to verify that you unlocked a SIM card by using someone’s network-locked device.
2. Copy or extract data from your SIM card
This activity can be friendly, such as extracting or copying the data stored on a SIM card for backup. An example includes copying contacts from a SIM to their phone, and, optionally, messages. Unfortunately, malicious use is awfully common too, at which point the person can intrude on your privacy and share data with others. Even worse, they might decide to use it against you. This can go as far as publicly embarrassing you, or committing illegal activities such as leaking or selling personal information or even blackmail.
3. Delete data on your SIM card
Once again, this action can have two sides. The positive side includes deleting your data because your SIM storage is full or no longer needed. Another frequent reason includes having a Google backup and planning to swap SIM cards. The same can apply to embedded SIM profiles, which can be wiped to troubleshoot or get newer settings or activate a Subscriber Identity Module (SIM) card from another carrier.
4. Locate you
Remember law enforcement pins a suspect based on the location of their phone at a certain time of day? Well, you don’t need any special tools to replicate that as a regular citizen. Actually, we demonstrated multiple methods to locate a SIM card. Obviously, someone can do the same with your SIM, and track your locations throughout the day or over the course of months.
5. Clone your SIM card
We already taught you how to clone a SIM card trusting that you’d use it for good. Neither of us can vouch for that certain someone, however. That person can remove, duplicate, then re-insert the SIM into your device. This would let them receive calls and texts at the same time as you and spy on your activities while you remain oblivious. What’s more, unless you catch them red-handed, you’d never know.
6. Impersonate you
A person doesn’t need physical access to use your SIM phone number and pretend to be you. True, if they aren’t tech-savvy and know your PIN, they’re more likely to do it that way. But, through digital technology, perpetrators can spoof virtually any phone number, even if it’s in active use. This can be used for harmless pranks or planning a pleasant surprise that requires SIM ownership confirmation. Unfortunately, it can be used to cause harm, too. Accounts for most online services, including bank and financial ones, rely on two-factor authentication. This acts as a safeguard, requiring you to enter a code received via SMS for authentication. If it falls into the wrong hands, however, you can have your accounts (and your friends’, through scamming) cleaned out. Even worse, if they commit a crime in your name, they can ruin your reputation or land you in jail.
7. Change your PIN and lock your SIM card
Perpetrators can use a security feature, a PIN (Personal Identification Number) code for the wrong reasons. If they follow the instructions for locking a SIM card on Android, iOS, or iPadOS, they can forbid access to your smart device to anyone without it, you included.
8. Hack your smart device(s)
This is a real possibility that encompasses many of the actions we already mentioned under one term – hacking. And because this could happen or has potentially happened already, we instructed you to look for signs you’ve been hacked. What’s more, we compiled a list of 11 measures for protecting your SIM card from hackers.
9. Block a SIM card
So far, we’ve only mentioned things that you could either discover or revert. Now’s the time for actions with permanent consequences. First up is blocking a SIM card, in which case your carrier sends a remote request that stops it from working. Someone can also enter the PIN incorrectly 3 times and the PUK code 10 times to achieve the same result.
10. Damage or destroy a SIM card
Another set of actions that can have lasting consequences are multiple ways SIM can get damaged, in this case, intentionally. Perpetrators might also decide to irreparably destroy the SIM card too, at which point you’d be forced to buy a new SIM.