Fraud Alert: Sandgate O2 identity Fraud Cases [Updated 14/2/2022]
In the last 48 hours there have been at least 15 people from Sandgate who have reported on Facebook, Nextdoor and to me directly that they have been recently the victim of Identity Fraud.
In every case, during December the local resident had had a mobile phone contract with O2 taken out in their name and their home address. O2 are now pursuing the resident for outstanding payments, despite the resident not ever having taken out a contract with O2 themselves.
All reports I've seen so far have been in Sandgate village, Seabrook or the Golden Valley: it's therefore really quite localised. It may be someone who has gathered names and addresses by looking in bins or something similar, but there is no immediately obvious link beyond location.
O2 are dealing with each individual very slowly in most instances it seems (except where they are being flagged on Social Media - apparently that gets quicker attention) and default notices are still being issued. In some of the cases, there also apprears to have been a loan agreement put in place for a phone / tablet, also in the local residents name, and that is appearing on their credit score.
Clearly anyone who receives communication from O2 or loan companies alleging they owe money / have a contract when they do not should contact O2 customer services as soon as possible. The O2 phone number 01928 756166 is reported to be more useful than the generic customer services number.
I've also taken the issue up urgently with contacts at Folkestone & Hythe District Council who have consulted with the Police and Trading Standards.
Having done so, the Kent Police Prevent & Protect Fraud Officer has asked that anyone that has had their ID abused in this way report it to Action Fraud via Guide to reporting | Action Fraud. The more reports they have, the better as it builds the picture.
When the offences are reported to Action Fraud, they will collate all information and pass this to the National Fraud Intelligence Bureau, if there are any lines of enquiry, they will develop and disseminate these to the most appropriate law enforcement agency. However, this may not be Kent Police, as with Fraud, the offenders are often not based in the same area as their victims.
The Kent Police Prevent & Protect Fraud Officery is linking with the local Fraud coordinator to the Eastern region to see if any other reports such as this have come through.
The Community Safety Officer at Folkestone and Hythe Disitrct Council has also offered so general advice on Identity Fraud, which I reproduce below.
The advice provided to victims of Identity fraud:
- Regularly check credit score's by using Experian/Clear score and for any unrecognised transactions/applications to notify the company involved to advise that they have been a victim of fraud . There is also an option with Experian to upgrade a free account to an 'Identity Plus' account which does cost £6.99 per month, but has enhanced features to protect against Identity theft, such as enhanced fraud alerts and daily Experian reports Identity Fraud Monitoring | Experian
- Experian can also help with contacting other lenders that have shown on the report - they have a fraud team that can help victims of Identity theft - It might be worth contacting them for assistance as it may help relieve some stress/pressure and give some assistance with contacting lenders/companies: What to do if You're a Victim of Identity Fraud | Experian
- Sign up to CIFAS personal Identity Protection - There is a cost for this of £25 for two years. What it does is puts a warning marker against personal details advising that his details have previously been obtain fraudulently. Companies that use CIFAS when checking personal details will then know that his details are at risk and will carry out extra checks should applications be made the victim's name - this can mean for genuine applications they will take longer to be completed, but it does mean that they are better protected from further incidents of identity fraud if these were to occur. For more information: Protective Registration | Identity Protection Service | Cifas
- Passwords should be changed and use a two-factor Authentication Top tips to keep the cyber criminals out | Action Fraud
- To check their email addresses has not been compromised or if there is future problem with their emails. Have I Been Pwned: Check if your email has been compromised in a data breach
** Updated 14/2/2022 **
I'm continuing to pursue this with a number of agencies, as I hope one might eventually take seriously that this looks like a large scale issue, rather than a number of individual events.
In the meantime, O2 have come back to me with some new contact routes for them (after I explained that people were losing the will to live trying to call them). They say:
Hi Tim, we can be contacted via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
If any of the residents concerned don't have access to social media, please ask them to email us there with the O2 mobile or account number concerned.
We'll then take some further details and ensure it's escalated to our fraud team.
For Social Media options:
We can be contacted via Twitter at https://t.co/J7APOdklUr
We can be contacted via Facebook messenger at https://t.co/f4HJjTMwsi
We can also be contacted via Instagram at https://t.co/gm2CyWNDnS