What is an eSIM? How do hackers try to steal money using an eSIM scam? How does one stay Safe?

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Esim Feature
a Pictorial representation of a Sim Card and a Smartphone

What is an eSIM?

eSIM stands for an Electronic SIM which replaces the Traditional Physical SIM Card and is attached/mapped to the the Smartphone’s Modem using the Network Connection Chip and IMSI Number. it allows cell phone manufacturers to reduce the size of the smartphone and thereby increase battery life and provide many other features as the space utilized by a physical sim card is ruled out.

Origin of an eSIM

Esim was a feature launched and supported by Apple in the launch of iPhone X in 2017, since then Companies like Google and Samsung have also incorporated this feature support in many of their devices like the Pixel series and the Galaxy S, Note and Z Flip/ Fold Series.

Devices which Support eSIM

As of September 2021, the current known list of eSIM supported devices is:

Apple

  • iPhone 13, 13 Pro, 13 Pro Max, 13 Mini*
  • iPhone 12, 12 Pro, 12 Pro Max, 12 Mini*
  • iPhone SE*
  • iPhone 11, 11 Pro, 11 Pro Max*
  • iPhone XS, XS Max*
  • iPhone XR*
  • iPad Pro 12.9‑inch (4th generation)
  • iPad Pro 12.9‑inch (3rd generation)
  • iPad Pro 11‑inch (2nd generation) 
  • iPad Pro 11‑inch (1st generation)
  • iPad Air (4th generation)
  • iPad Air (3rd generation)
  • iPad (8th generation)
  • iPad (7th generation)
  • iPad mini (5th generation)

Samsung

  • Samsung Galaxy S21+ 5G
  • Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra 5G 
  • Samsung Galaxy Note 20 FE 5g
  • Samsung Galaxy Note 20 FE
  • Samsung Galaxy Note 20 Ultra, Ultra 5g
  • Samsung Note  20+
  • Samsung Fold LTE model
  • Samsung Galaxy Z Fold3 5G new 
  • Samsung Galaxy Z Flip
  • Samsung Galaxy S20, s20+ and S20 Ultra (Single SIM Nano-SIM and/or eSIM models )
  • Samsung Galaxy Z Fold2 5G
  • Samsung Galaxy Fold

Google Pixel

  • Google Pixel 5a 5G new 
  • Google Pixel 5
  • Google Pixel 4a
  • Google Pixel 4
  • Google Pixel 3 & 3XL ( Limited support )
  • Google Pixel 2

Microsoft

  • Microsoft Surface Duo
  • Windows 10 PCs

Huawei

  • Huawei P40 and P40 Pro **

Oppo

  • Oppo Find X3 Pro

Sony

  • Sony Xperia 10 III Lite new 

Others

  • Nuu Mobile X5
  • Lenovo Yoga 630
  • HP Spectre Folio
  • Gemini PDA
  • Motorola Razr 2019
  • Palm Palm

How can one obtain an eSIM?

The Process of Usually eSIM usually begins with :

  • Sending an SMS to your operator
  • Your Operator will send you a SMS with a requirement to you reply back with a confirmation
  • This will be followed by you receiving an automated Voice IVR call requesting for a subsequent confirmation
  • You will then receive a QR Code on your email ID which shall have to be scanned from your device to map it in the eSIM Slot.
  • Post the completion of the above steps there shall be a Cooling period of 2 Hours and your Physical Sim shall be converted to an eSIM with the SMS service on your mobile Number being barred for 24 Hours as per regulatory guidelines.

Below are the Links to the Operator wise process of obtaining an eSIM :

Airtel* : https://www.airtel.in/esim

Vodafone Idea* : https://www.myvi.in/esim-activation

Jio : https://www.jio.com/en-in/esim

*eSIM on Airtel & Vodafone Idea is only available to customers using Postpaid/Billing Plans and not on Prepaid Numbers.

What is the Scam Trick used by Fraudsters ?

Now that we have learned about eSIM, let us understand how scammers trick users to steal from them :

  • It is suggested that users are receiving a message stating that their SIM card will be blocked in 24 hours if the KYC details aren’t updated. Following this, the fraudsters contact people under the garb of customer care executives of any of the telecom operators that provide eSIM services. 
  • Users are then asked to forward an email ID (sent by the fraudsters) to the customer card of that particular telecom operator. The email ID belongs to the scamsters so that they can register their mail IDs to access the user’s bank information. Once the message is sent, an auto-generated message is received regarding the eSIM activation, following which another message is received that contains a link to a Google form asking users to fill in details for the KYC updating.
  • Once users fill in their personal details that also include the bank account number, the eSIM is activated and a QR code is sent to the fraudsters (via email) for them to access the user’s phone number as the physical SIM card gets blocked. This way, the scamsters can use the phone number to get OTPs and enter the banking details in e-wallets to steal money from people.

How to remain Safe? What precautionary or preventive measures should you take?

You have to remember that this Scam can only take place if you initiate the process by taking the step of sending a SMS or clicking an unsolicited link received,

At the same time you have to understand that no operator asks for your personal information like Bank account number, OTP, CVV, Pin etc.

The ask for such information should itself be an alarming fact that it is an act to loot/steal your hard earned money.

so if you have received any such intimation it is advisable to visit your operator’s store or call the customer care to verify the authenticity of such communications at the same make an alert to your bank to prevent any financial loss.

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