While many consumers may get ripped off by identity thieves without knowing it, one particularly unfortunate fraudster recently gave his victims a pretty good clue: He accidentally shipped his purchases to their house.
A couple in Alaska recently learned from their credit union that a criminal had used their debit card number to make $5,000 worth of purchases in about an hour, according to a report from the Anchorage Daily News. This included buying sports memorabilia and electronics, getting a subscription to USA Today, paying a phone bill and even joining a fruit of the month club.
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But a funny thing happened for the couple, Chris and Susie Linford of Anchorage, the report said. Soon after the bank told them of the theft, they began getting deliveries, such as a car stereo, a radar detector, a baseball bat signed by Chipper Jones, an autographed picture of Dale Earnhardt, Jr., and more. It seems the criminal, or criminals, behind the fraud neglected to change the Linfords’ home address as the default shipping location on a number of popular retail sites.
Unfortunately for the Linfords, they may not have much luck tracking down the person or persons responsible for the crime, as it’s difficult to tell exactly where the criminals got the Linfords’ payment data. They’re likely also on the hook for returning the items they received from the various online outlets, the report said. Unfortunately for many consumers, there’s only so much they can do to protect themselves from this type of fraud. At least for the Linfords, it seems their criminal or criminals were amateurs who weren’t very good at hiding their crimes. Other consumers might not be so lucky.
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The only way consumers can be assured that their accounts haven’t been compromised is to check them regularly so that they can spot any questionable transactions within a few days of their having been made. If any are discovered, they should be reported to the financial institution that issued the compromised card. However, it’s important to keep in mind that usually with debit cards, the window for reporting fraud is much smaller than it is for that on a credit card.
Image: asenat29, via Flickr