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A few weeks ago an unknown person walked into a mobile phone store, claimed to be me, asked to upgrade my mobile phones, and walked out with two brand new i Phones assigned to my telephone numbers.
My phones immediately stopped receiving calls, and I was left with a large bill and the anxiety and fear of financial injury that spring from identity theft.
The Growing Problem of Phone Account Hijacking Records of identity thefts reported to the FTC provide some insight into how often thieves hijack a mobile phone account or open a new mobile phone account in a victim’s name.
In January 2013, there were 1,038 incidents of these types of identity theft reported, representing 3.2% of all identity theft incidents reported to the FTC that month.
This post describes my experiences as a victim of ID theft, explains the growing problem of phone account hijacking, and suggests ways consumers and mobile phone carriers can help combat these scams.
My Experiences as a Victim of ID Theft One evening my mobile phone stopped working mid call.
Media reports on mobile phone account hijacking provide more evidence of this problem.
A 2013 Forbes article reported that the government had seized over 5,500 phones from a Michigan operation that allegedly acquired them fraudulently from AT&T, Verizon, Best Buy, Radio Shack, and Apple stores and was shipping them overseas.
After about two months my carrier sent me the records.The article reported that thieves used stolen identities to upgrade phones and add phone lines to existing accounts.In February 2015 more than 50 customers in the Denver area complained that Verizon had charged them for i Phone 6s, i Pads, and new service plans they had not ordered.Following the checklist, I placed a fraud alert and obtained a free credit report.
I also prepared an identity theft complaint affidavit, which I later printed and took with me to my local police station when I filed a police report.By January 2016, that number had increased to 2,658 such incidents, representing 6.3% of all identity thefts reported to the FTC that month.Such thefts involved all four of the major mobile carriers.I logged in to my online account, changed the password, and added an extra security PIN recommended by the fraud department.