ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. — A St. Petersburg man was stunned to see a credit card arrive with his name. The problem is he never applied for it.
Adam Hickson pulled out a Chase Sapphire card from a UPS envelope addressed to him. The card had his full name and a limit of nearly $14,000.
“How could this happen? How did they get my identity?" asked Hickson. "I have no idea how they got my information right now. I can only speculate.”
According to the Better Business Bureau, identity theft is the fastest-growing type of fraud in North America.
“There’s not a lot of ways to prevent this from happening to you," said Jen Smith, a personal finance expert.
Smith says this type of fraud can happen to anyone, especially in this age of data breaches.
“It can be really disrupting because money controls so much of your life," she said.
Scammers can pay for names, addresses, even social security numbers off the dark web.
Hickson says he immediately called Chase when he got the card and filed a complaint with the Federal Trade Commission. No money was taken.
Despite the headache, Hickson says he feels lucky thanks to his neighbor.
“He noticed two kids about 20-21 years old walking onto my front porch. He asked them what they were doing there and they retreated and he grabbed the package and held it for me until I came home," said Hickson.
He believes they were on the look-out for the card. He has since installed a surveillance camera.
But, Smith did spot an oddity in this case. The envelope the card came in.
She says if the card arrives via UPS or FedEx instead of USPS, that's a red flag. She says sometimes the card itself is the scam. It will include a number to call for any help but on the other line is a scammer. This method is a phishing attempt to get your financial information.
So what can you do if you become a victim of identity theft? Smith says start by contacting the credit card’s fraud department. Then report the fraud to the FTC.
“You need to report that as identity theft in case you need to take any legal action or prove you were a victim of fraud," she said.
Don't forget to also report it to the three credit bureaus. You should also keep a close eye on your credit report and consider looking into freezing your credit.