Identity Theft Full Inbox
December 29, 2019 6:13 AM   Subscribe

My wife has apparently had her identity stolen, and they used a trick I had not heard of. What should she do next?

On the day before Christmas she started getting thousands of emails from all over the world, many of them saying she has been signed up for newsletters and that sort of thing. In the middle of that torrent, she luckily saw a notice from Best Buy that the MacBook she ordered was on the way (!). She kept digging and found a UPS tracking email with the same info, with a delivery address in our neighborhood. She called Best Buy and sure enough their automated system said, "We see that you just ordered from us." The order information matched her name, phone number, and email, but not address, and they gave her the last four digits of the card, and it did not match any of her credit cards. While on the line, they said they rerouted the package.
She checked the credit bureaus and the new card does not appear. She put a fraud alert on her accounts.
Yesterday she got a UPS notice that the package had been delivered :(

So the remaining questions are:
Why would they target a victim in their own neighborhood?
How can she cancel the new credit card in her name?
What other steps should she take?
posted by bitslayer to Law & Government (8 answers total) 5 users marked this as a favorite
Just a thought on question 1 but it might have been delivered to an address known to be gone during the day and the package picked up off the porch of the delivery address... Ie it might not be your neighbor.

The new card doesn't show up on credit reports? Not sure what other steps beyond freezing your credit scores and fraud alerts.

Have you filed a police report just to have it?
posted by chasles at 7:04 AM on December 29, 2019

Has she checked her regular card(s) and bank(s) for suspicious transactions?

Did she tell the retailer that it was a fraudulent charge, and did they say they would report it to the card company? They should at least be able to give her the contact information for the card company, so she can then call them.
posted by zennie at 8:21 AM on December 29, 2019

I might be missing something but it doesn’t sound like there’s actually a credit card in her name or anything else that would put her especially at risk. It’s not clear why someone used her email address to sign up for a bunch of things, or why something was shipped to her name? But it also doesn’t really sound like a criminal mastermind at work — probably more unsettling than actually a big problem.
posted by chesty_a_arthur at 9:04 AM on December 29, 2019 [4 favorites]

It doesn't sound to me like her identity has been stolen at all.
posted by humboldt32 at 9:57 AM on December 29, 2019 [4 favorites]

A similar thing happened to me. I believe the plan was to obscure the transaction with the flood of spam emails and steal the package from my doorstep. However, in my case my Paypal was hacked rather than a new credit card being used.

Since it's not showing up on your credit reports, I think it is quite possible the credit card used in this case has nothing to do with your wife. (Perhaps it was stolen from a different individual to make the fraud harder to track? Speculating here.)

That said, it does sound like your wife's info was compromised, since they connected her email with her physical address. Perhaps she has an existing online Best Buy account that was hacked? Best Buy should be able to help you reset/delete any account information and cancel that order, assuming you are able to intercept the package.

In my case, I didn't experience any additional fraud. Hopefully you have the same experience.
posted by toastedcheese at 10:39 AM on December 29, 2019 [1 favorite]

a thought: sounds more like someone made a mistake when putting in their email address (and it turned out to be your wife's email)
posted by mirileh at 11:19 PM on December 29, 2019

Response by poster: Thanks for the responses. To answer questions:
Her regular cards do not have anything suspicious.
We have not called the police.
She does not have a Best Buy account.
It is an oddity; it is not clear how the scam works, but it must be a scam and not a mistake.
It was not just a mistaken email, it was attached to her name, email and phone number. Just the credit card and physical address were different. So how they got a new credit card in her name without it showing up at the credit bureaus doesn't make sense. I keep thinking it will show up eventually?
posted by bitslayer at 5:56 AM on December 30, 2019

Best answer: Sounds a little like what we went through almost exactly 6 years ago. Ours was a saved card on our hacked Best Buy account, but the flood of spam and time of year line up.

I would keep an eye on the credit report - it's possible that it may take some time for a new account to start showing up. However, it's probably more likely that what some of the others above have said - the credit card account is not in her name, just the Best Buy account.
posted by neilbert at 7:43 AM on December 30, 2019

« Older Little in the middle, but I need new pants!   |   Android 10 on a Pixel 2? Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.