I added a new phone line and someone called claiming to be the previous owner of the phone number. He requested that I forward information a text message (He wanted me to forward 2 Factor Authentication information that would be sent to my new phone number via SMS). Naturally, I refused the request. I do not think that they are too happy with the refusal.

Are there are any risks I should be aware of or precautions that I should take, given that there is some 'funny business' afoot?

CLARIFICATION: The caller does not know my name or any of my accounts. If the caller is a bad actor, then he is compromising someone else's account because the phone number he called was recently issued to me and I do not give it out to anyone, because I use a call forwarding service. Said phone number has not been given out to anyone

  • 16
    Sometimes we're just too paranoid. It's quite possible the person isn't lying, and it WAS their phone number. It's also possible this is some form of fraud. If you were feeling nice I suppose you could offer to unlock whatever account they have for them instead of passing on the information directly. I don't really see what the harm is if you haven't set 2FA anywhere yourself, especially if you handle all resets. Then again, it's also possible it's someone ELSES phone number, and you'd be resetting a completely different person's account. Jul 18, 2019 at 17:30
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    I actually texted someone with my old phone number asking for the code once. Unfortunately, they never replied to me, so I had to create a new account.
    – oxr463
    Jul 18, 2019 at 18:37
  • Possibly relevant. security.stackexchange.com/questions/182567/…
    – JMac
    Jul 19, 2019 at 0:42
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    "Naturally, I refused the request." -- In cases like this, it is often more appropriate to simply offer no response whatsoever. There is no guarantee that the number has been re-issued yet, or that it is to a device that can do SMS with a human... let them wonder. Jul 19, 2019 at 19:17
  • @trognanders - If it were a disconnected conversation (text, email), absolutely, no response would be best. But the OP was on a phone call with the other person. Simply hanging up when asked to forward the information wouldn't improve anything, the caller already knows he's reached someone. Morever, if it's a truthful person at the other end, telling them you won't do it is useful and appropriate. If it's a scammer, at that point doesn't much matter whether you say no or just hang up, they'll still try again. :-) Jul 20, 2019 at 13:09

2 Answers 2


It's a known scam attempt. The caller probably compromised one of your accounts, and got stopped by the 2FA token sent to your phone. If you send them the token, your account is fully compromised. Or, as Nic pointed very well, may be the account of someone else.

What you do?

First: don't send them any code or token. That will prevent them for compromising your account.

Second: If your provider offers any alternatives, replace SMS as 2FA on every account you have with a more secure solution, like a hardware or software TOTP token. SMS is too insecure for that. 1 2 3 4

Third: change your passwords. If you don't have a password manager keeping different accounts for each service, install and setup one now. It will take time, but takes way less time than to recover from any mischief an attacker can do with your online services. While you are changing passwords and storing them on your password manager, switch the 2FA from SMS to TOTP to have a safer 2FA.

Don't trust your brain to pick passwords. They are guessable, and a computer can try billions of combinations per second. Any password manager, no matter how primitive, is better than us at creating password.

  • Comments are not for extended discussion; this conversation has been moved to chat.
    – Rory Alsop
    Jul 21, 2019 at 21:20
  • If they were a bad actor, and they were hard core, they just would have had your number slammed to their SIM. If they have lost access to their bank, bitcoin, paypal account, there are other ways a genuine owner can go? This is why you need a second number for 2FA if a number is required.
    – mckenzm
    Jul 22, 2019 at 0:07

This is probably a attempt to gain access to the account that sent the code this is a common method of bypassing 2FA it works by once a message is sent with the code a attacker will text you and say that it is there old phone number and they need the code this might be someone who actually needs the code however more likely it is a attacker trying to gain access to your account

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