Cheap trick

12Mar13

I walked past a shop in Norwich which sold second hand phones and gadgets. The window was stuffed with top-of-the-range iPads and smartphones. I paused for a moment, looked at the prices and wondered who would sell a nearly new, fully working gadget to a shop at a knock down price.

A few days later I received a letter from a mobile phone company telling me that my direct debit had been set up and hoping that I would enjoy using my new top-of-the-range phone… The bank details in the letter were not mine.

A few days after that I received a letter from a different mobile phone company telling me that my direct debit had been set up and hoping that I would enjoy using my new top-of-the-range iPad… The bank details in the letter were not mine.

The same day I received a letter from a company which provides home support and repair for top-of-the-range gadgets. The letter told me that unfortunately there was a problem with my direct debit and they couldn’t set up the policy for my new gadgets so please could I phone them to sort it out.

It’s all a fraud, of course. Someone, somewhere has obtained a stolen bank card with a reasonably common name on it. Then they have trawled public databases like the electoral roll or companies house to find the genuine address of someone with the same name or initials.

You can walk out of a mobile phone shop on the high street with a brand new top-of-the-range gadget having apparently set up a direct debit with only a bank card to prove your identity. No need for a PIN or proof of address.

Just across the road there is a shop which buys nearly-new top-of-the-range gadgets for cash. It takes days for the mobile phone company to issue the letter to the unwitting ‘customer’, who may or may not bother reporting anything, so there is plenty of time for the thief to sell on the gadget which will only be blocked once the original vendor realises that they have been done (if the gadgets get blocked at all).

As a good citizen I rang the relevant mobile phone companies as soon as I received the letters. I discovered how difficult it is to get through to speak to a real person when you are (a) not actually a customer and (b) trying to report a fraud where you are not the victim. But I persisted and reported the scam.

I’d like to think that I’ve heard the last of it, but I have a nagging feeling that somewhere soon, out in the cloud, a credit rating database with my name and address will be incorrectly updated to state that I don’t pay my bills.



2 Responses to “Cheap trick”

  1. Hmm, things are getting tight this year, thanks for the business plan…


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s


%d bloggers like this: