Local thwarts ID theft when scammer tried to buy phone; Potential victim offers tips on how to not fall prey to digital thieves
September Bosch of Oasis Computers wants to warn people about an identity theft scam she experienced. (Lisa Dunlap Photo)
Roswell police are investigating an identity theft incident after a local computer company employee said she was able to stop someone from sticking her with a sizable bill for a new smartphone.
Oasis Computers web designer September Bosch wants people to know about her experience so that they can be alert to problems, she said.
“It happened to me,” Bosch said. “It can happen to anyone.”
Bosch was alerted quickly to the potential charge to her wireless carrier account because she receives emails on her phone.
“Next thing I know, I am getting all these emails in my email box from different places around the world,” said Bosch. “There’s Mandarin Chinese, Russian, German, Dutch, everything — all subscriptions to either newsletters or whatever.”
Bosch also found among the spam email an invoice from her phone carrier for a new $549 smartphone charged to her account.
Then all the emails that were making her phone “ding off the hook” made sense.
“I know why they did that, so that this would get lost, the (wireless carrier) email confirming the order of the phone,” she said.
The invoice indicated that the phone was to be delivered to a Roswell address unknown to Bosch, one she describes as being many blocks from where she lives.
Because she filtered through all the spam and found the email from the wireless carrier minutes after the attempted purchase, Bosch said, she was able to have the company ensure that she would not be charged for the phone.
She then took several actions that she recommends for others.
She locked her wireless carrier account. She changed the passwords to her online accounts and her modem. She said only difficult passwords or ones created by password-generating programs should be used. She also reported the crime to the local police.
A report was filed with the Roswell Police Department Thursday morning and the matter is under investigation.
“As we pursue the investigation,” said police spokesman Todd Wildermuth, “she was advised to inform the major credit card companies and the Federal Trade Commission of the identity theft.”
Bosch thinks that the suspect likely found her information on social media, perhaps because she advertises as a web designer. But, she acknowledges, her personal information could have been obtained in many different ways.
“Everyone in town needs to check their bills and make sure no one is buying a phone on their account,” she said.
The Federal Trade Commission has set up a website, identitytheft.gov, to help victims report a problem and develop a recovery plan based on the specifics of their incident.
In addition to contacting the police and the FTC, general recommendations include contacting all the credit agencies to alert them to the crime and correct any wrong information and to monitor all open credit accounts.
Only about one in 10 incidents of identity theft is reported to the police, according to the federal Bureau of Justice Statistics, part of the U.S. Attorney General’s Office. Most victims, which numbered more than 17 million in the United States in 2014, are able to resolve the identity theft issues within a couple of weeks. Identity theft is the top consumer complaint filed each year with the FTC.
Senior Writer Lisa Dunlap can be reached at 575-622-7710, ext 310, or at firstname.lastname@example.org.