Woman’s hefty phone bill shock

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EAST Lon­doner Janet Churchill is dev­as­tated be­cause two cell­phone con­tracts on dif­fer­ent net­works were opened un­der her name us­ing her ID book without her knowl­edge .

Last year, Churchill opened a cell­phone con­tract at Cell C in Hem­ing­ways.

“I was run­ning very late for work so they said I must e-mail and scan a copy of my ID and bank state­ment to them. That was the last time I used my ID copy via e-mail,” she said.

In March, she got a bill from Vo­da­com of R10 350. She got a fright and when she called them she was ad­vised to get an po­lice af­fi­davit to prove that she did not open the ac­count.

“I had my ID in my hand­bag all this time and the last time I used it was in Jan­uary when I opened the Cell C ac­count. One of the let­ters said, the date of is­sue on my ID is not the same as the date of is­sue in the ID they had but they had my pic­ture in it.

“The sig­na­ture that they used was not mine. I got hold of the Credit Bureau and it dis­played an ad­dress in 12 Mil­ner Road, Wood­stock in Cape Town and that is not me,”

Churchill even closed her bank ac­count be­cause ev­ery­thing was linked to it and opened up a new one. Telkom then called her for her new bank de­tails and she did not give it to them. In be­tween all this, she got an SMS from MTN to tell her that her ac­count had been ac­ti­vated.

“I got a fright and asked what was go­ing on and they told me that some­one came to them three times with an ID book that looked like mine.

“They re­alised af­ter the third at­tempt that it was not me be­cause ev­ery time I take a con­tract, I take the cheap­est one. They [scam­mers] took out the most ex­pen­sive. So they blocked it straight away, they re­alised it was fraud.

“It’s not the kind of con­tract I would take. I am an MTN cus­tomer, have been for more than 20 years. When they wanted to open this ac­count, they didn’t un­der­stand why sud­denly I would go from the cheap­est to the most ex­pen­sive,” she said.

“I don’t know what else is out there. Maybe they are buy­ing cars and houses un­der my name, I don’t know. If they were buy­ing food, maybe I wouldn’t have made a big deal, but these are just not nec­es­sary,” she said.

She could not open a case be­cause she does not have a per­son's name but an ad­dress.

”I don't know how they did it be­cause my ID book has al­ways been with me. That's the scary part. When Vo­da­com came I thought it was a joke be­cause I didn’t think if I had my ID book, some­one else can have one. Fraud is not new but I never ex­pected this,” Churchill said.

Both ac­counts have been can­celled be­cause of the af­fi­davit she wrote.

“They dis­cov­ered that it was fraud.The po­lice can’t help me un­til I get a name. Where am I go­ing to get one?”

Po­lice were con­tacted for com­ment, but they had not re­sponded at time of go­ing to print.

She urged the pub­lic to be vig­i­lant to iden­tity theft like this.

JANET CHURCHILL

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