Is it fun for you to pretend you're me and buy dog vitamins?
April 19, 2016 5:39 AM   Subscribe

It has recently come to my attention that someone is using my (very uncommon) name, previous address, current cell phone, and very old email address to shop online. But to what end?

I received a letter in the mail from an ecommerce website I had never heard of (upon follow up they are legitimate, just small) saying that my order was "on hold" until I provided a valid credit card. The letter was addressed to my full correct name, at a correct (but old) address, and when I contacted the company for more information they informed me that they had also been given my current cell phone number and a very old email address that I no longer use (but maintain access to). The credit card they had been given for this order, which was declined, did not match the last four and expiration date of any of my credit cards.

Thoroughly puzzled, I logged into the old email address for the first time in 5+ years and found that in the past six months or so someone has placed a handful of online orders, all with small ecommerce websites, using my name and address. I know none of those orders have shipped because the shipping address is always that old address of mine, where none of the items have been received. At least two of those orders also resulted in email notices of non-payment to the same email address.

The total of the merchandise ordered under my name is only about $200. I've reviewed all of my bank accounts and credit cards and nothing is amiss there. I checked my credit reports online and don't see anything suspicious there. I've already filed my taxes and received my returns this year without incident. I plan to close that old email account once and for all, but I don't want to get rid of it until I get to the bottom (or feel confident there is no bottom) to this situation. I have no current accounts elsewhere that could be accessed based on someone having access to this old email address, but I have also changed the password to that email account just in case.

Have you ever experienced or heard of a situation like this in the past? Am I missing some potential harm to me, or some way that this could lead to harm? I thought the original notice might have been a phishing scheme, but all the ecommerce sites seem to be on the up and up, just small. Is there anything else I should be doing to protect myself or investigate this situation further?
posted by telegraph to Work & Money (4 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
It sounds like nascent identity theft.
posted by cincinnatus c at 5:54 AM on April 19, 2016 [8 favorites]

They are checking stolen credit cards work. Sounds like a small time outfit not one of the big setups. Maybe purse snatchers. They don't care about the items, just of the order goes through, they pick smaller businesses as they do less checks etc.
posted by wwax at 6:49 AM on April 19, 2016 [5 favorites]

Hey, I asked a question almost exactly like this about socket wrenches! MeFi agreed that it was exploratory identity theft, and though I still don't quite get how that would work (it wasn't MY credit card, and they hadn't opened a new one in my name, so I guess they were just mixing and matching stolen cards and stolen, out of date names and addresses? This all seems very work-intensive), I checked my credit reports (no weirdness!) and put a fraud hold on my profile and it made me feel much better. It's easy!
posted by babelfish at 7:51 AM on April 19, 2016 [1 favorite]

Please contact the businesses and let them know what is going on. You don't want to be blacklisted or sent to collections. Some companies will send you to collections over trivial amounts of money. Also, putting a hold on your credit is a good idea. These people might try to open cards in your name.

Something similar happened to my fiancee. They tried to order things on a Best Buy account for in-store pickup. He noticed, changed his passwords, and alerted the police. The police were waiting for them when they went to pick up the goods.

Even if it isn't your card, you don't want your name attached to a delinquent account.
posted by domo at 8:45 AM on April 19, 2016 [2 favorites]

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