Thanks to advances in technology, it's harder than ever to duplicate a cellphone, but that doesn't mean it never happens. Sometimes it can seem as though criminals are two steps ahead of security advancements, but if you suspect someone cloned your phone, you may have a reason for feeling that way, and it's usually wise to listen to that instinct and check into it. Fortunately, there are ways to determine whether your phone has been hacked and one thing to do if it has indeed been hacked.
How Cloning Works
While you would never ask someone to clone your cellphone, the truth is, it can happen when you aren't even aware of it. Using a scanner, a criminal can use an IMEI hack to duplicate a phone by capturing its International Mobile Equipment Identity number, which is the unique number assigned to your device. Once someone has your IMEI, that information can be used to create a SIM card, which can then be inserted into any phone. From there, phone calls and texts are sent and received as though you are the person on the other end of that number.
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Detecting a Duplicate Phone
You can usually find out whether someone has made a clone of your cellphone by paying close attention to the behaviors of the phone itself. The most immediate sign is in your cellphone bill. If you notice unusual calls or texts, or an overall increase in activity, you should contact your cellphone provider immediately. A sudden influx of wrong number calls and disappearing voicemails are also signs that someone may have cloned your number.
Resolving Cloning Instances
Use the Find My iPhone feature on an iPhone or the Find My Phone app on Android phones when you suspect your phone may have been cloned to locate the phone. If there's a duplicate phone out there, you'll see it. Reach out to your carrier and explain the situation to see what it can do to shut the other instance of your number down. Only your cellular provider can resolve this problem.
To keep your phone safe in the first place or going forward after your provider fixes the problem, safeguard your IMEI as you would other sensitive numbers. Someone may have been able to clone your phone because you input the IMEI information somewhere online, perhaps in an area you thought was secure. Be careful when clicking on links in emails. If you're directed to input your IMEI, go directly to your wireless provider and provide it there, rather than trusting that the link you clicked is legit.