Cellular Phone Company made it Too Easy - Waiting for the Other Shoe to Drop

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November 1, 1999

Dear PRC,

I would like to share my recent experience with you. I sure it is one that you have heard far too often. I applaud your efforts to aid and inform the public with your information. This is one of those instances of, "If it can happen to me, it can happen to anyone." I am a very private person and am meticulous regarding the disclosure of my personal information.

I recently received a call from Voicestream Cellular welcoming me to their company. One problem, I never opened an account with this company. They had my correct name, address and SSN. However, my date of birth (DOB) was incorrect.

Long story short, since I am very careful who I give my SSN to, I am certain that my information was leaked through either one of the local utilities or the state Dept. of Motor Vehicles. The reason for my certainty is they are the only ones who have my name and SSN associated with my present address, which I moved into three months ago. That is when I moved from California to a nearby state.

What really bothers me is the ease with which this person was able to utilize my information to open this cellular account. They simply went to a Staples Office Supply, purchased a "cash and carry phone" (for which no ID check is done), went home and activated the account with my name, address and SSN.

I am hoping that the detailed bill (including all numbers they called, as well as those from which they were called) I received yesterday from Voicestream will aid the local sheriff's office find this pinhead. In just eleven days of activation they placed 536 calls, most averaging one to three minutes. Maybe since this individual uses the real address of the victim, they are not aware of the level of detail contained in the bill, since they never receive it.

The cell phone company should have called me to confirm the account before activation. This should have been done with an independently obtained phone number from directory assistance for my real home number. In other words, they should not use a number given to them by the activator of the account.

Legislatively, there should be stiffer penalties for this type of theft and there should be restrictions of the wholesale use of the SSN for identification purposes. The combination of the name, address and SSN have become the skeleton key to the magic kingdom of fraud.

I have reported this incident to my local law enforcement agency and the three credit reporting agencies. I can only hope that this will be the only incident, but it is like waiting for the other shoe to drop.

Thank you again




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