PHOENIX, AZ (3TV/CBS 5) – Your cell holds a lot of vital information. That’s why scammers will try to do anything to access it, including through a technique called social engineering.

[WATCH: How to protect yourself from scammers trying to take over your cellphone]

Social engineering is defined as the “use of deception to manipulate individuals into divulging confidential or personal information…that may be used for fraudulent purposes.”

It's a common method used to dupe customer service reps with phone companies, and the deceit may be all it takes for a con-artist to pose as you to take over your cell phone accounts.

"So, if they're very clever and they can convince the phone company that they're you and say I have a new phone, and I want to switch to the new phone,” Ken Colburn with Data Doctors told 3 On Your Side. “They'll go through the process to reallocate your phone number to a new device."

Another common name for this is called the “sim swap scam.” If the scammer can successfully pose as you, they can gain access to a lot of your personal information.

There are ways you can protect yourself. For instance, make sure you have a pin or "personal identification number" on file.

"The one thing that will not allow anything to happen is if you put a special pin, [a] special code the representative knows, that they can't do a thing on the account unless you give them that pin,” Colburn said. “That's something most phone companies require you to have.”

When you create a pin, experts recommend it’s something difficult to figure out. Numbers containing birthdates, for example, are too easy for scammers to figure out.

For other ways to protect yourself from this kind of scam, you can click here.


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