A Belvidere resident was hit by a “sophisticated identity theft” that she describes as resulting from “an easily overlooked risk,” and wrote this to warn you about it:
Sometime around the end of April, someone hacked into my wireless router and stole my name, address, WDL#, and SS#. I’ve since discovered that wireless routers have two passwords – one for the wireless signal (which I had locked down), but also one for the router admin itself. The router comes from the factory with a standard login/password, and no instructions for changing it. This is something I overlooked, and this is how the thief got in.
I was first alerted to the theft when I received an email receipt from a store in University Village for a large purchase I didn’t make, on a card I haven’t used in years. I called the store, and they fortunately remembered the woman who made the purchase, and were able to provide a description – a white woman, age 30-35, with long blond hair (not a description of me). She had a WDL ID with her photo and my name and address.
I of course immediately checked my credit reports and set up fraud alerts, and discovered that over a dozen inquiries had been made with my name, and several new cards opened.
It turns out the thief also had a plan to collect the new credit cards and statements. The thief put a vacation hold on my mail at the post office on California & Oregon (using her fake ID), saying she would be back May 15 to pick up the mail. Sure enough, when I figured this out & got my mail restarted, there were the new credit cards and statements.
With further investigation, I discovered that my identity had been used in Puyallup and Everett to open store credit accounts, and that the thief was using a prepaid cell phone purchased in Everett. I also received an alert that my complete information (plus passport # & medical ID #) was for sale on a black-market website.
I’ve filed reports with both the police and postal service investigators.
Just want to emphasize this was a complex and local theft – to get into my router, the thief had to physically be close to my house. Then of course they visited the WS post office, and shopped at nearby shopping centers. Everyone, please check your wireless router admin login and secure it! If you find your information has been compromised, do report it to the police and let them know you’re aware of my case so they can put it all together. I was told the police cannot investigate this kind of fraud without more evidence, more thefts, or a higher amount of actual monetary loss.
Here’s what the Federal Trade Commission says about how to protect yourself from what happened to “Belvidere Resident.”