Fraud & Identity Fraud & Identity

Fraud & Identity Featured Article

August 10, 2017

Telstra Case Highlights Need for Identity Checks

Sometimes it takes an extreme scenario for us to open our eyes and realize that there’s a problem with the way things currently are. For one man in Perth, Australia, his identity needed to be stolen before he came to realize that there needs to be stricter anti-fraud policies in place at mobile operator and financial institution locations.

According to a recent ABC article, Beau Gellard was only made aware that his identity had been stolen and used to create a fraudulent Telstra account when he received an unexpected phone bill in the mail. The bill was actually sent to his mother, who he hasn’t live with in 10 years. That should have been the first red flag for the operator in question, since there’s no reason a man would send a phone bill anywhere but his own address.

After going to the nearest Telstra store, Gellard found that the account had been set up online, using his name, date of birth and mother’s address. Apparently, the fraudster had supplied a driver's license number and Medicare card details, but they did not match Gellard's. Again, that was another missed red flag.

Not only was a fake account created in his name and a rather hefty bill created, but Gellard’s credit score was also negatively impacted by the fraudster’s actions.

A Telstra spokesman commented on the situation, saying “We have investigated and found that someone has fraudulently used Beau's details to create an account…in fact, some person has actually signed for the delivery of a handset…sadly, this is an example to be extra vigilant with personal details.”

Yes, this is definitely a good lesson on being careful with your personal information. As Gellard said himself, “Whenever you apply for a product online you get a false sense of security that when you put your driver's license ID or passport ID into the website that you are somehow secure, however obviously that didn't happen in this case.”

However, this should also serve as a lesson to operators and credit card companies as well. When the new Telstra account was created, the company should have noticed that the details did not match up. If the company had policies in place that required employees to keep fraud top of mind, someone might have noticed the suspicious activity and thought to call Gellard to see if he had moved or changed personal ID numbers.

Unfortunately, detecting fraudulent activity wasn’t a top concern here. And now Gellard is going to have to deal with the ramifications of having his information stolen.

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