The 31 Forms of Identity Theft – Cell Phone Fraud (new account)

#6 Cell Phone Fraud (new account)

Cell phone account fraud is when a criminal opens a phony cell phone account in your name and use it to access your bank account, sign up for credit cards, or sell the phone number for other criminals to use.

While it still little-known among consumers, cell phone account fraud can have a devastating impact on your finances and your reputation.

Cell phone account fraud can become a huge mess because, unlike credit card fraud, there is not an infrastructure in place to resolve it quickly.  Unlike for other types of fraud, there are fewer consumer protections. It is also harder to detect, so it can go unnoticed for months. By the time of detection, your bank account may be drained, credit card companies may be after you for unpaid bills, and the police may be investigating you for crimes committed in your name.

“Sometimes you may not find out about it until the account goes into arrears, and it can take months or years to fix that, not to mention the monetary expense usually entailed,” says Brian Krebs, who runs, a website focused on cybercrime and security.

Other impacts that are associated with this type of fraud:

  • Instead of using your real address, criminals arrange to have the cellphone account bill sent to a different address. Once the account is established, the criminal uses the phone and pays their cellphone bills long enough to establish a credit history. Then the criminals apply for credit cards and loans in your name, exposing you to a mountain of bills.
  • Criminals also sell the new phone number to other criminals engaged in drug dealing, human trafficking, or other schemes.
  • Using your name and personal information, criminals can also sign up for a phone plan and agree to finance the cost of a new, expensive phone. They then sell the phone and abandon the account, leaving you on the hook for the purchase.

Credit monitoring will not alert you to this type of fraud.

 LibertyID will take the following steps for/with their members:

    • Contact the carrier of the fraudulent cell phone account
    • Place fraud alerts at all three credit reporting agencies
    • Place credit freezes, if appropriate (including at NCTUE – a credit reporting agency fed by data supplied by phone, pay-tv companies, and utility service providers)
    • File report with FTC
    • File a police report
    • Review credit reports with the victim to ensure there is no other types of fraud
    • Provide credit monitoring with alerts for 12 months
    • Periodically contact the member throughout the 12 months following resolution of their ID theft recovery case if warranted