Thursday, October 8, 2015

Identity Theft?

Yesterday, I went to the local Verizon store to upgrade my phone. (Verizon is one of several major cell phone carriers in the United States.)

I had my phone over 3 years so I should have been eligible for a new phone.  But wait, not so fast.

 "No", I was told, "someone called on September 11, 2015 using your account, gave the correct last four of your account owner's (my spouse's) social security number and and upgraded to an iPhone 6S; you can't upgrade until 2017".

In the United States, we don't have national ID's but our social security numbers, a number given out by the Federal government shortly after a citizen is born (well, not when I was young but that's another story) act almost like a universal ID number.  All sorts of companies use them.  If your number is stolen, you are in trouble.

I had to call Customer Service, which contacted Verizon's fraud unit, and it is straightened out now- well, at least I can upgrade. The fraudulent call came from a neighborhood in NYC, almost 200 miles from where I live.  I knew this when the rep named the neighborhood because I grew up in New York City.

I asked if this means my spouse has had his identity stolen. "Not necessarily" we were told.  But this comes on the heels of us receiving a letter from our health insurer telling us they had been hacked. Still, if someone did get my spouse's social security number, how was it associated with his cell phone number? (my spouse only gives that number out to family).

Besides this being past creepy, I'm still trying to figure out what had happened. And, why weren't we notified by email? I was too stunned to think, but the fraudster must have changed my  address.  But we got a communication in the mail from Verizon about 10 days ago.  Something just doesn't make sense.


Has this happened to any of you?

12 comments:

  1. Yeah, that upgrade should have triggered an email. Fortunately you caught it early.

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    1. A couple of my co workers speculate that this was an inside job (i.e. a Verizon employee, who was able to get the information and also suppress emails). I am still waiting for a call back from the fraud unit.

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  2. So happy you were able to get some relief! Identity Theft is a HUGE concern. A friend just had her identity stolen as she walked in a shopping mall. there are scanners that can read your cards through your purse & wallet. Banks are aware of this and the newest protection is the chip card. Every credit/debit card is to be equipped with them soon. Now with the holidays coming up we need to be more aware of this possibility. Use cash whenever possible and frequently monitor credit reports

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    1. Sharing this with co workers, I heard some interesting (and scary) stories. I hadn't paid much attention to articles about the chip problem but I am going to pay attention now - plus, my health insurer was hacked recently. Our electronic world is like fire - it can cook your food or destroy your house.

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  3. Creepy is not nearly strong enough! Darn!

    b+

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  4. Frustrating, this modern world.

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  5. It's never happened knock on wood, but the thought is very frightening! Glad you got everything straightened out.

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    1. I'm not sure it is straightened out completely - disappointingly, the fraud unit never called back, and with a caregiving situation going on, I didn't have the time (or energy) to pursue it. I'll have to, though.

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  6. What a mess. I'm glad it's sort of straightened out.

    As for the chipped cards--retailers became liable for any fraudulent use of cards in their stores on October 1st (yes, last Thursday) unless they use the chipped part of the cards.

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    1. I haven't gotten chipped cards from any retailers I have cards with (just a couple) - makes me wonder, but I haven't had time to investigate. Still, it's so easy to get your identity stolen.

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  7. How terrible...I know everything is done on line now and at anytime any of us can have our indenty stole.
    I never hear much on Europe having this kind of trouble.
    Coffee is on

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    1. I would have to think this happens in Europe but - it's worth checking out.

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