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Saturday, September 5, 2015

How do Scammers Do It?

A few days ago, we were inundated with mail addressed to WRONG PERSON with our address. I opened one without looking at the name  and discovered that WRONG PERSON was applying for credit. So I--good citizen--called ATT, Verizon, and a few other places to alert them to the scammer.

The customer service people were unconcerned. I got "Perhaps it is the previous resident" (we've been here for 25 years); "Perhaps your neighbor accidentally wrote down the wrong number" (no); and even "We're sorry. We cannot give you information on someone else's account (very suspicious of ME).

Well, I just opened an ATT bill (because I thought it was MINE) and discovered that WRONG PERSON has a bill of almost $400! Then I noticed other mail ("your statement enclosed") addressed to HIM. I wrote "Not at this address"on the envelopes and put them outside to be picked up. Who knows if they will ever return to the companies.

I can't even DEPOSIT a small check without producing picture ID. American Express is always flagging scammer charges. How do people set up fraudulent accounts?

Should I re-alert the companies or assume that it will be--as before--a waste of time during which I will be subjected to pitying comments and suspicion. I figure we're all paying for this stuff one way or another.


SewingLibrarian said...

It occurs to me that someone could use a fake address for a long time these days by receiving and paying all bills online. The only catch would be how to get a credit card in the first place? Is the ATT bill for phone services or for their (Universal) credit card? I wouldn't bother to call companies again, given their reaction the first time. I'd continue to return the mail, however.

SewingLibrarian said...

Coming back to ask, is your mailbox a locked box or an open one that anyone can get into? I'd consider getting a locked one. What an opening for a mystery story. Person uses the mailbox of an unsuspecting stranger for years, always getting to the mail first. But one day said person falls ill and dies. Second person is flooded with dead person's mail, investigates, and lands in the middle of -----what?

Gam Kau said...

I have a similar situation here, but mostly because our flat has changed hands many times. I simply return all incorrect post as "return to sender" and I think, eventually, it works.

dotsybabe said...

Sewing Librarian might be onto to something. I once had an employee who opened fraudulent accounts using her work address. She was the person who handled office mail so she was able to pull "her" bills (which she didn't pay, BTW) before delivering the rest of the mail in the office. The key to this kind of fraud is that the perpetrator can never be absent -- and this employee had a spotty attendance record. Someone else handled the mail one day while the fraudster was out sick and we discovered the scam. It was only after we fired her that we discovered the scope of the fraud -- various small accounts (most way overdue)she set up in the company name.

I would put a freeze via all 3 credit reporting agencies on your credit so no one could open any accounts using your info. (You can always unfreeze if you want to refinance your mortgage, etc.) And I would do some internet research (even if you have to pay a small fee) on the mystery man. You can easily find out where he lives, etc.

Shame on the stupid "customer" service people. I'd call back and ask to speak with a supervior or manager.