Woman: Cell phone store visit led to ID theft

Jeff Ehling Image
Thursday, August 28, 2014
EMBED <>More Videos

When one Houston woman's identity was used to open a cell phone account in her name, she turned to Action 13 for help

HOUSTON (KTRK) -- You hear it all the time: Identity theft is on the rise. And no matter how hard you try to protect yourself, experts says scammers are finding new ways to obtain your information. So when one Houston woman's identity was used to open an account in her name, she turned to Action 13 for help.

Anytime you give your personal information to a company, you'd expect them to keep it secure. But one woman tells us that her recent trip to one of the nation's largest cell providers led to her identity being stolen.

When Erica Whittington was shopping for a new cell provider, she stopped by her local Sprint store and gave them her personal information.

My ID and my Social Security number, and they used that to give me the quote," Whittington said.

Whittington says she wound up going with a different provider that suited her needs. However, a month later...

"I got a bill from Sprint saying that I had an account setup," she said.

Whittington says she never signed a contract and went back to the Sprint store to speak with the manager.

"And he told me he cleared it, and that he made it zero," she said.

But a few months later, Whittington received a call from a debt collector.

"And they told me it was for a Sprint account. and that I owed $700 and something," she said.

Whittington tells us she called Sprint's Fraud Department.

"They said they can't help me. Well you're the fraud department, you're supposed to look into this," she said.

Whittington says she was told because the account was in collections, she had to take it up with the debt collector. But when she called the collection agency, she says they told her to call Sprint.

So she called Action 13 for help. We got on the phone, sent emails and wouldn't stop until we got to the bottom it. Sprint finally responded to us with a statement saying, "Sprint does not tolerate fraud and we have strict protocols in place to prevent, detect and address fraud."

After we reached out to the company, Whittington received a letter stating, "Sprint has confirmed your personal identity was used to open an account and will adjust any outstanding balance to zero. Also, any collection activity that has been reported stemming from this issue will be removed."

Monica Russo with the Houston BBB offers this advice for consumers.

"Monitor all of your accounts If you see any type of activity that's a little suspicious, you need to notify the right people right away," Russo said.

Now Whittington believes someone from the store took her information to setup that bogus account. When we asked Sprint about those allegations, they said, "We don't comment on fraud investigations."

The BBB says to always be mindful of who you give your information to, and regularly monitor your credit with the three major reporting agencies.