Phone account hijacking victim warns others of potential scams - KMOV.com

Phone account hijacking victim warns others of potential scams

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ST. LOUIS, Mo. (KMOV.com) -

James Taylor told News 4 that his wife received an email saying the new cellphone she ordered was being shipped.

"We did not order a new phone and it's being shipped to an address that we don't even know," said Taylor.

He said he notified AT&T and was told he was one of many victims of a scam. Taylor also reported the crime to Manchester Police. It's a scam known as "Phone Account Hijacking."

Identity theft and cybersecurity expert Adam Levin said, "It is becoming more common as hackers and scammers are looking for new ways to generate money."

Scammers don't need to know your name to go online and take steps to take over your cellphone account. With knowledge of your phone number, zip code and last 4 digits of your social security number, they can follow the process of upgrading to a new phone and have it shipped to them. 

News 4 confirmed that the phone that scammers ordered using Taylor's account, was shipped to the Moonrise Hotel in the 6100 block of Delmar Boulevard. Manchester officers had hoped to catch the scammer when he went to get the phone but no one ever showed up. 

If the scammer had picked up the phone and activated it, Taylor learned he would have found himself in a difficult situation.

"We would be responsible for this phone that some scammer bought and on top of it, everything would transfer over to that phone to include our phone number and would shut our phones down," said Taylor.

Levin said the scammers will sometimes use a phone obtained through this kind of scam, to access the victim's bank account.

"If they have hijacked your phone number and the bank is trying to call you to get in touch with you, they can't, they end up getting in touch with the hacker who has stolen your phone number and is answering the phone," said Levin.

Levin says the key to stopping this kind of scam is to call your cellphone carrier or go online to their website and set up a PIN or passcode. It would require someone to know the PIN before any changes could be made to your account.

An AT&T spokesperson released a statement about the scammers who targeted Taylor.

“We reversed this activity, and we’ve taken extra steps to protect this customer’s account."

Manchester Police said their investigation is ongoing.

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