How scammers are able to buy iPhones, iPads in your name and how to protect yourself

RALEIGH, N.C. (WTVD) -- Hundreds of thousands of dollars worth of iPhones and iPads are being bought in consumers' names, yet these consumers never ordered them. But now, the providers are demanding payment. It even happened to one of our own.

ABC11's Morgan Norwood got a few unusual text messages from her cell phone carrier.

"I started getting these weird text messages that said congratulations on your new phone. I didn't think anything of it as I knew I didn't personally order a phone," said Norwood. It wasn't until she checked her bill and saw a $700 past due amount. Norwood called her cell phone carrier right away.

"They said someone down in Florida was able to add a phone line under my name and get another iPhone," Norwood said. "I'm not sure how that happened and I had been billed for it for at least four or five months."

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Norwood is not alone. It also happened to Lynne Splawn through a completely different carrier that she doesn't even use. A $1,450 iPad was bought and financed in her name, and she never knew about it until she got a suspension notice that her service had been suspended.

Splawn called the company and said she asked how it was even possible, as she has a credit freeze on her credit, which should prevent anyone from opening up credit in her name. Splawn said she was told, "'We don't check them. We just check your prior credit history with us,' and I'm like, 'there wouldn't be one as I don't have service with you.'"

Splawn filed complaints with several agencies, and the company did take the fraud out of her name. Norwood also had the charges removed after she reached out to her cell phone provider, and they credited her account the $700.00 in fraudulent charges.

The Troubleshooter Takeaways to try and protect your account and credit:
  • Always check your credit with the three major credit bureaus and look for fraud. Right now due to the COVID-19 pandemic, you can do it for free weekly through April 2021. Head to AnnualCreditReport.com for more information.
  • If you get text messages, emails about a new service or device you didn't order, contact the provider right away and dispute the charges.
  • Add a pin or code to your cell phone provider account as an extra layer of security, which should make it harder for scammers to get access to your account.


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