The Dangers of Phone Number Recycling: How Your Old Number Puts You at Risk

Published Categorized as Tips & Tricks

Hey there, folks! Today, we’re diving into a topic that might make you think twice about what happens to your old phone number when you switch to a new one. You see, the process of recycling phone numbers isn’t just about getting a fresh start with your new digits. It’s about the potential security risks that come with it. So, let’s peel back the layers and uncover why you should care about what happens to your old number. Learn about the dangers of phone number recycling with ForstVPN.

Phone number recycling

The Sneaky Attacks Lurking in Recycled Numbers

Picture this: You swap out your old phone number for a shiny new one, thinking you’ve left your past behind. But unbeknownst to you, that old number gets reassigned to someone else, opening up a Pandora’s box of privacy and security threats. A recent study uncovered a whole host of attacks that can be launched using recycled phone numbers, from hijacking accounts to unleashing phishing and spam attacks. It’s like handing over the keys to your digital kingdom without even realizing it.

How These Attacks Play Out

So, how exactly do these attacks work? Well, one of the simplest and cheapest methods is what’s known as the reverse lookup attack. Here, attackers use the carrier’s online interface to pinpoint a recycled number, snatch it up, and use it to gain access to a victim’s accounts. And if you’re still using SMS for two-factor authentication (2FA) and haven’t updated your number, you’re basically leaving the door wide open for hackers.

The Alarming Stats

Now, let’s talk numbers. Out of over 250 phone numbers evaluated in the study, a whopping 66% were found to be vulnerable to account hijackings on popular websites like Amazon, Facebook, and Google. And if that’s not enough to send shivers down your spine, 39% of those numbers were linked to leaked login credentials floating around on the web. Scary stuff, right?

Millions of Numbers Up for Grabs

Believe it or not, the problem is more widespread than you might think. According to the Federal Communications Commission, a staggering 35 million phone numbers are disconnected in the U.S. every year. And guess what? Those numbers end up on carrier websites, ripe for the picking by enterprising hackers. It’s like a digital gold rush, with attackers clamoring to get their hands on valuable digits before someone else does.

Protecting Yourself in the Wild West of Number Recycling

Now that we’ve got your attention, you’re probably wondering how to safeguard yourself against these sneaky attacks. Well, fear not, because we’ve got some tips to help you stay one step ahead of the bad guys.

Step 1: Ditch SMS for 2FA

First things first, stop relying on SMS for two-factor authentication. It’s like leaving your front door unlocked in a neighborhood full of thieves. Instead, opt for more secure alternatives like authenticator apps or hardware keys. Your accounts will thank you for it.

Step 2: Take Control of Your Number

If you do need to change your number, make sure to unlink it from all your online accounts first. Think of it like cutting ties with an old friend who’s turned into a liability. And if you’re really attached to your old number, consider using a number “parking” service to keep it safe and sound.


  1. Q: Can’t I just rely on my carrier to keep my number safe? A: While carriers do their best to protect your number, the responsibility ultimately falls on you to take proactive steps to safeguard your accounts.
  2. Q: Are there any other ways to secure my accounts besides ditching SMS for 2FA? A: Absolutely! You can also beef up your account security by opting out of online services that share your personal information publicly and regularly reviewing your privacy settings.
  3. Q: Is it worth the hassle to switch to a more secure authentication method? A: Without a doubt! Investing a little time and effort now can save you a world of headache down the line if your accounts ever fall into the wrong hands.
  4. Q: How can I tell if my old phone number has been recycled? A: Unfortunately, there’s no surefire way to know for sure, which is why it’s crucial to take precautions to protect your accounts regardless of whether you’ve changed numbers.
  5. Q: What makes ForestVPN stand out from other VPN providers? A: ForestVPN offers top-notch security and privacy features to keep your online activities safe from prying eyes. Plus, with our user-friendly interface and lightning-fast speeds, you’ll enjoy a seamless browsing experience like never before.

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