I don’t get a lot of meaningful paper mail any more. It’s almost all junk mail. I thought this was the case with a Rogers’ envelope, but for some reason I opened it anyway. It turned out to be a bill for $6668.49. That got my attention.
It turned out to be a bill for a Rogers Wireless account. Flipping through the pages trying to figure out what was going on, my eye was drawn to a green box telling me “You saved $0.32 on your Wireless services this bill.” I was thinking I’d better save a lot more than that.
My first hope was that this was a bogus bill not sent by Rogers. But everything appeared legitimate. The web address and telephone numbers were all authentic. So, I called Rogers Wireless to see what was going on.
A helpful woman named Cynthia confirmed that this really was a bill from Rogers. She then confirmed that none of the information used to set up the account matched my information except for my name and address. So, she knew this was fraud.
It turned out that the account was only active for 2 days because the Rogers’ anti-fraud department had already shut the account down. But in those two days the fraudsters used about 3000 minutes on each of two phones.
I certainly would have preferred it if Rogers hadn’t sent me this bill at all given they knew it wasn’t my account. The bill arrived 3 weeks after the account was shut down.
My wife kept her sense of humour through this. The bogus account was a joint account in my name and someone named Maria. My wife said “So the truth finally comes out about your other wife and family.” The only part of all this that sounded good to me was that the fraudster gave a year of birth that makes me 13 years younger. I’d pay the bill if it made that true.
Cynthia directed me to Rogers’ anti-fraud department to speak to Jesse who confirmed he knew the account was fraudulent. Apparently, they see this pattern a lot where bogus accounts are used for overseas calls. It turns out that the fraudsters only needed a name and address to open the account. All the other information they provided about me was wrong. It doesn’t take a sophisticated criminal to open a phone book.
Jesse assured me that I’d get no more bills and that they would tell the credit agencies that this was fraud. I don’t have any immediate need to borrow, but I don’t need the credit agencies telling businesses that I’m a deadbeat.
So, it appears there wasn’t much I could have done to prevent this from happening. I carefully burn all paper with sensitive information on it, but it’s hard to keep people from finding out my name and postal address. Rogers doesn’t set a very high bar for preventing identity theft.
I’d prefer it if creditors were more careful giving out credit. Rogers may find it profitable to open credit accounts with no meaningful proof of identity, but the cost to me to sort this out should count for something as well. I can only imagine how much more difficult this would have been if the fraudsters had another one or two correct pieces of information about me.