HUNTSVILLE, Ala. — These days, most of our personal information can undoubtedly be found online. There are many ways to be vigilant in protecting ourselves, but sometimes, scammers still find a way to take advantage of you.
There’s a new scam that’s circulating in the Tennessee Valley — one where the scammer is taking an extra risk to avoid detection.
“I didn’t open it up right away, I actually didn’t pay attention much to it. I just assumed it was my wife ordering something online,” Daniel Tarkowski said. He happened to be home when a package was delivered and it didn’t seem unusual.
If you can relate, it might be time to start paying closer attention.
“I opened it up…noticed it was two iPhones. A black one and a pink one,” Tarkowski said.
The thing is, he hadn’t ordered the phones. Tarkowski was a scam victim.
“It had my name, my middle name, my last name, my full address. It had those particulars so it didn’t feel like, hey, this was just delivered to the wrong address,” he said.
The way this scam works is a scammer somehow obtains your personal information. They use it to open an account and order something of value, but they send it to your real address.
“What’s unique about this is we believe they’re trying to intercept the package before the victim does,” said Lt. Michael Johnson with the Huntsville Police Department. “It gives them time to work with that person’s credit until they finally get the bill because we know the bill will not come till much much later.”
In Tarkowski’s case, his social security number was compromised. About a week after the package arrived he was billed hundreds of dollars for a cell service he never ordered.
“In these cases, the victims got the package first, so they’re ahead of the game,” Lt. Johnson said.
But if the scammer does intercept the package they may continue to use your personal information undetected.
“They know where I live,” Tarkowski said. “It’s just one other thing that I need to do to protect myself, my family, my kids, from someone that is looking to violate you.”
If you receive a package you didn’t order, police say to file a report with them as soon as possible and watch your credit accounts with vigilance.