TORONTO -- Ontario residents are being warned of a new scam called "SIM swapping" that allows fraudsters to steal your personal information and even empty your bank accounts.

The Ontario Provincial Police (OPP) said through the scam, fraudsters have the potential to access your social media accounts, calendar, contacts and money. Police said scammers can even apply for credit in your name or impersonate you to defraud your entire contact list.

How the scam works

Police said fraudsters will call your mobile phone company and impersonate you. They will then report your phone as being lost or stolen.

Your phone number will then be linked to a new SIM card and device that the fraudsters control.

"The fraudster then downloads a series of the most popular and most attractive apps," the OPP and the Ontario Serious Fraud Office said in a news release on Friday.

"They will select the 'Forgot Password' button on all apps. If an account is associated to your phone number or email address, the fraudster will receive a verification code."

With this code, police say the scammers can take ownership of your accounts and lock you out.  

How you can protect yourself

The OPP said there are a number of ways people can protect themselves from this scam. 

Police are warning people not to answer phishing emails or text messages looking for you to confirm or update your password. 

People are also being advised against publishing your date of birth on your social media accounts. You should also contact your phone provider to ask about any additional security measures that may be available. 

If you ever lose your phone, contact your service provider immediately. 

"And go with your gut," police said. "If a message seems fishy, it probably is."

Anyone who has been a victim of fraud is asked to contact their local police station. 

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