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After discovering that another phone on my account also had no signal, I called my mobile carrier on a landline phone.The customer service representative explained that my account had been updated to include new i Phones, and in the process the SIM cards in my Android phones had been deactivated.Identity theft reports to the FTC likely represent only the tip of a much larger iceberg.According to data from the Identity Theft Supplement to the 2014 National Crime Victimization Survey conducted by the U. Department of Justice, less than 1% of identity theft victims reported the theft to the FTC.So, following the template provided by Identitytheft.gov, I wrote a letter to my carrier requesting all records related to the fraudulent upgrades on my account.After about two months my carrier sent me the records.A store employee explained that a thief claiming to be me had gone into a phone store and “upgraded” my two phones to the most expensive i Phone models available and transferred my phone numbers to the new i Phones.I called my mobile carrier’s fraud department and reported what happened.
She had acquired the i Phones at a retail store in Ohio, hundreds of miles from where I live, and charged them to my account on an installment plan.
She assumed it was a mistake, and told me to take my phones to one of my mobile carrier’s retail stores.
The store replaced my SIM cards and got my phones working again.
The representative agreed to remove the charges, but blamed the theft on me.
When I asked how the store authenticated the thief, he told me that employees of stores owned by the mobile carrier would have asked for the account holder’s photo ID and the last four digits of their social security number, but if the theft occurred at another retailer, that might not have happened.
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.