06.Victims of ID theft
Criminals assumed Jim’s identity, told his bank he’d emigrated and redirected his credit card statements to a false address. Then they took his card on a spending spree.
When Jim emigrated from England to WA, he held on to his English credit card for use during trips back to the UK and some internet purchases. Some time later, he received a letter from the provider, Barclaycard, about suspected fraud on the card. “Barclaycard wouldn’t give me any details at first. It was only with probing that they admitted it involved an online flower company,” Jim says. “I'd sent flowers to my Mum through a company that I'd used a few times successfully.
Then another flower company with a different name contacted me by email asking for my full credit card details, including the three-digit security code, to process the transaction. I became suspicious and cancelled the order.” Later, the bank confirmed that Jim’s credit card details had been stolen. It identified that transactions on the card didn’t fit his usual spending pattern, including several items costing over ₤1000 and the purchase of dozens of ₤10 and ₤30 telephone calling cards.
"The crooks had advised Barclaycard that I'd moved back to the UK, and they provided Barclaycard with an address for me in East London. They then increased my credit card limit and proceeded to spend about $15,000 in computer shops around the UK. I was totally unaware of this, of course, because the statements were not coming to my address.”
Although Jim wasn't liable for these fraudulent transactions, he was surprised and annoyed that Barclaycard had allowed the change of address without his signature. He'll also think twice about buying flowers over the internet in the future. " Barclaycard told me that it's relatively easy for crooks to get hold of personal information such as address, date of birth and mother's maiden name.”
When Anne (not her real name) tried to renew her passport recently, she found that someone else had already obtained one in her name. “I had to go through the process of proving that I was the real Anne,” she says. “I needed to produce documents going back to school.
After about three weeks the new passport was issued. But the Department of Foreign Affairs and the Australian Federal Police couldn’t tell me who had stolen my identity or where they’d been [while using my passport]. It still hangs over me — I don’t know who this person is that’s been using my name.”