According to ABC News Tuesday, a couple in Alaska received everything their identity thief bought online, all because he forgot to change the shipping address.
When Chris and Susie Linford of Anchorage, Alaska, found out that their bank account was drained of nearly $5,000 without their knowledge they were devastated.
Fortunately for the couple, their credit union, Credit Union One, quickly detected the fraudulent purchases and refunded their money. But within weeks of their debit card number being stolen, they began receiving packages. Among other things the Linfords received:
- A$900 signed Dale Earnhardt Jr. poster
- A Chipper Jones autographed baseball bat
- Six metal plant stands
- A case of leather Samsung Galaxy Note covers
- Four Northface jackets
- A series of linen photo albums
- Two women’s coats
- 1 radar gun
- And a letter from the fruit of the month club regretting to inform them that they do not deliver to Alaska
Most retail sites have a box you can check that automatically fills in your billing address as your shipping address, so it's possible that the thief checked it without thinking through the implications. Another possibility is that the thief planned to steal the packages off the Linfords' front porch. But the Daily News notes that Susie Linford traced the orders back to phone numbers and IP addresses in Kansas and Illinois (both of which are around 3,600 miles from Anchorage), which makes that situation unlikely.
The Lindfords never actually had their debit card physically stolen, so it could have been stolen electronically, compromised through technology. In order to prevent this from happening to yourself, you can:
- Crooks pretending to be from online companies you do business with may call or send an email, claiming they need to verify your personal information. Be especially suspicious if someone contacts you and asks you to provide information they should already have.
- Never respond to unsolicited requests for personal information and always use virus protection.
- Check your credit reports regularly. If you find accounts that don’t belong to you or other incorrect information, follow the instructions for disputing those items.
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Emily Sutherlin is also the Pregnancy Examiner and Women’s Issues Examiner.
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