COBB COUNTY, Ga. - When Chris Staros received a text message about a duplicate credit card he didn’t order last year he jumped into action.
“I said, ‘Well where did the card get mailed to?’ They said, ‘To your home address,’” Staros said.
He told Channel 2 Investigative Reporter Nicole Carr that he became concerned when he realized the card never arrived.
“What I didn’t realize was that they had impersonated me and opened up an informed delivery account at the United States Postal Service,” Staros said.
Informed Delivery is a feature offered by the U.S. Postal Service that allows individuals to digitally preview their mail before it arrives.
Staros said in his case it was the crooks previewing his mail. They were also redirecting some of it to another address. He immediately shut down the account.
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“It is scary to know that you’re that vulnerable,” Staros told Carr.
He said that because nothing was stolen the police couldn’t do much.
But the thieves weren’t done with Staros. When his home phone stopped working a few weeks ago, phone company techs alerted him to a new problem.
“They realized that my home phone number had been ported away,” Staros said.
The phone company told him the crooks had used his phone number to log into his email and change his passwords.
“I got locked out of my email. They were trying to get a hold of my cellphones so that in the end they would be me and I wouldn’t be me,” Staros said.
A new credit card was sent to them.
When Staros called to cancel it, he was stunned when the customer service agent told him his account was being hacked at that moment.
“He said, ‘Oh crap, they’re changing your information back to where they had it as we speak. I can see them doing it online. They are inside your system right now,’” Staros said.
In the end the crooks only managed to get $41.87. Staros believes keeping tabs on his credit and having a credit freeze saved him.
Lori Silverman, who runs Team Clark in the Consumer Action Center, said Staros is right.
“They weren't able to use his identity to open up bank accounts or new credit cards or any of that in his name,” Silverman said.
She suggested setting up an informed delivery account for yourself and every person in your household.
“Because once you open up an account, no one else can open one up in your name,” Silverman said.
Channel 2 Action News asked the U.S. Post Office inspector general about Staros’ fraudulent account and was told out of the millions of delivery points, the rate of suspicious transactions reported by customers is less than one-tenth of 1%.
If you suspect suspicious activity with your mail you can report it online or call technical support at 1-800-344-7779.
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