Name and old college address used for fraudulent online purchases - why?
November 19, 2015 3:56 AM   Subscribe

This has been happening for a while, and since I haven't seen any actual transactions shown in bank / credit card statements, I've just cancelled every order that came my way - until today, when somebody ordered from Checks Unlimited! (but still sent to my old address under my name?! WTF)

Hi all, here's a little background in case it helps with solving this mystery:

I currently live and work in Asia, but graduated from a US college a few years ago. During my time in college, I both lived on and off campus, and maintained a debit card, a credit card, and a savings account - all of which I have kept active to this day in case I go back to the states in the near future, and to also occasionally make purchases from US online stores.

In the past couple months, I have occasionally received confirmation emails indicating that online orders have been made in my name, and both the shipping and mailing addresses were that of my campus (I had my debit card's billing address as the same address). The first couple of times that happened I immediately monitored my debit card account for any charges, but never saw any, so I just took to cancelling each order with the respective vendor.

Fast forwarding to this week, I have had 3 orders made in the same manner, and the most alarming of which was an order from Checks Unlimited, still sent to my University campus address, which obviously freaked me out. I have requested to cancel all 3 vendors, and only one (not the Checks store, but some camera store) has gotten back to me so far. I took the opportunity to ask the camera store's customer service rep for the payment method used for this order, and they got back to me with the last 4 digits of a Mastercard that I don't recognize.

I've checked all of my banking accounts, and none of them has shown any suspicious charges at the moment. I'm worried that somebody has created a credit card in my name with my old address! I don't know how I can go about stopping this, and do not understand what they may have to gain from this - It would be so appreciated if someone could enlighten me on what I could do to stop this from continuing, and if my credit/identity is in trouble right now. Thanks everyone.
posted by 01080591 to Work & Money (11 answers total)
They could run up debt using the credit card, then not pay it. The name on the card (I'm assuming this, although you didn't say that was the case), the name on the order, the address were all connected to you in some way. Attempts would be made to collect from you, and they will be untraceable.

I would lock down my credit reports with the three major reporting agencies so that new credit using your information can't be established. I would also probably close those old accounts as well, just to be safe.
posted by HuronBob at 4:01 AM on November 19, 2015 [6 favorites]

Also, the check order was at a specific bank. I would call that bank and report this situation, they are being defrauded as well and may take some action.
posted by HuronBob at 4:02 AM on November 19, 2015 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: Hey HuronBob, thanks for the quick response - very good advice. I was gonna check my credit before I go on freezing it, but it looks like being in Asia, the only way of getting my credit reports would be by slow mail, which given all the back-and-forth will take ages. Should I just go ahead and freeze the reports first anyway? Many thanks again.
posted by 01080591 at 4:16 AM on November 19, 2015

Have someone you trust in the US check your credit for you. Make sure they use *only*. You may want to be on the phone or online chat with them to help answer security questions. Go ahead and check all three credit bureaus at once, as not all creditors report to all three.
posted by Sweetie Darling at 4:21 AM on November 19, 2015 [1 favorite]

I absolutely agree that you should have a friend pull your credit reports for you to check.

Is there any possibility some idiot new student has a similar email address at your old .edu and is using that one instead of their own? Like instead of and you're getting alerted to all of their activity?
posted by phunniemee at 4:28 AM on November 19, 2015

Response by poster: Hey all, thanks for the feedback so far! I'm ashamed to admit I've never bothered to monitor/check my scores until now, anyway, got my credit scores, looks ok (in the 730-750 range), will start to freeze now. Spoke to the check store, they refused to reveal what bank the checks were made for, ah well, but at least the order is cancelled. Is there anything further that I could do at this point? I'm a bit worried that the Bad Guy out there will somehow find a way to get around to inflict more damage at this point since he/she still got my SSN and all that. I would go and file a police report where I went to college and started all those bank accounts, but I don't know if it's even possible from where I am right now.

I cannot express just how grateful I am for all your advice.
posted by 01080591 at 5:51 AM on November 19, 2015

If you're checking your credit reports, you should be able to check what accounts are open/have been opened in your name. Look to see if there are any other accounts out there that you're not aware of.
posted by HuronBob at 5:54 AM on November 19, 2015 [3 favorites]

If you have the physical checks you can Google the routing number to figure out the bank.
posted by postel's law at 6:48 AM on November 19, 2015

Is the campus address a general address for everyone to use, and is your email a university email? If so you should research the possibility that this is an innocent mistake from a new student. Maybe search your name on Facebook or somehow try to figure out their correct address?
posted by acidic at 7:14 AM on November 19, 2015

I would report this to the campus police as well. They can coordinate with postal to check to see if whoever now lives in your old residence is physically receiving mail in your name.
posted by kapers at 9:04 AM on November 19, 2015 [2 favorites]

I should add, in order for my bank to pursue fraudulent debit charges I had to make a police report; I know you are across the world but perhaps campus police can assist you in making this report. You'll want this officially on file somewhere in case collectors ever chase you for this debt.
posted by kapers at 9:07 AM on November 19, 2015 [1 favorite]

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