Have you heard of VoIP fraud? As of tonight, I have. When I got home from work this evening, there was an Earthlink box sitting on my doorstep. I hadn't ordered anything from Earthlink, so I curiously popped the tape open and found hardware for a new VoIP account in my husband's name, and confirmation that our current telephone line would soon be cancelled. I quickly went through this series of reactions:
- Annoyance. My husband knows that I am anti-VoIP for the home because of poor E911 support. Our current telephony cost of $15/month is entirely acceptable for both a home landline and the assurance of emergency services.
- Indignation. My husband definitely knows how ticked I would be if he cancelled our telephone line without telling me. And so, Earthlink marketing must have entered the telephone slamming business, and I burned with thoughts of fiery blog posts.
- "Oh, crap." Earthlink marketing couldn't be that stupid. And so someone must be setting up accounts in our name and making international VoIP calls.
I spent 90 minutes on the phone, talked to two representatives, set up two fraud reports, set up two confirmations of inactivation, and cancelled five user accounts across four service types. There were four separate Earthlink accounts set up using my husband's name and our home address and telephone number. Fortunately, our real Earthlink DSL account is on our business line and in my name, and therefore 'untainted' - the last thing I need is to have our home DSL cancelled by Earthlink's fraud division. But my husband's name is now effectively banned from Earthlink.
During one of my holding periods, I Googled up these interesting descriptions of VoIP fraud. These primarily focus on the cost to the carrier, but personally I'm more concerned with this little-discussed form of identity theft. The VISA number submitted to Earthlink had been rejected (in which case, why had they sent out hardware?) but my husband was still registered as responsible for the account charges. If we hadn't received the snail mail confirmation or the hardware on our doorstep, we would never have known.