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I'm asking this question on behalf of my mother. Apologies if this is the wrong SO network, but it feels like the closest one to me.


A few months ago she received a letter through the post from eBay that confirmed someone had correctly registered an eBay Shop at her address. It was someone else's name, but her address. It felt sure like a scam to me, but I couldn't tell what it was (no premium rate numbers, no links, etc.). So my mother contacted eBay via their website and was told it was a simple mistake on the address the seller meant "Road" not "Avenue", and eBay corrected the problem. At the time we took this excuse, but in retrospect, it doesn't smell right now (e.g. the wrong road, but correct postcode?).

A few weeks ago, she received a number of SIM cards through the post, addressed to the same name as the person who setup the eBay company. She contacted the company that sent them, and they confirmed it was probably some sort of scam, trying to use my mother's address for their business, so that when the don't pay the bills, the debt collectors come knocking at the wrong house, but not much more help.

Is anyone aware of a scam like this (my google-fu turned up nothing)?

Does anyone know of any measures she can take to protect herself or authorities that should be contacted?

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    Does your mother have a mailbox that a stranger can gain access to the interior of (as opposed to, for example, a lockable mailbox)? They could be hoping to pick up the letters before your mother gets to them, which would be a pretty common trick for identity theft. Investing in a lockable mailbox may be prudent; it will make it far more difficult for a crook to pull off something like that at least undetected. – a CVn Sep 3 '16 at 14:03
  • No, the mailbox is a common though the door and onto the floor setup, common to most houses in the UK. – DaveShaw Sep 3 '16 at 14:06
  • Well, that does make that particular attack a lot harder to pull off. Not impossible, but certainly hard enough that most crooks would probably go for easier picking. – a CVn Sep 3 '16 at 14:08
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    Has she gone round to the address in question (the "Road" that has the same name as her "Avenue") to talk to the people there? – Vicky Sep 3 '16 at 16:21
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    @DumbCoder, I don't think he means common in the sense of shared-with-other-houses, I think he means common in the sense of normal or usual. The usual UK-style letterbox opening in the door where the post drops through onto the floor (so pretty hard, but not impossible, to intercept). – Vicky Sep 5 '16 at 10:21
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In your mother's position, I would do two things:

  1. Get a copy of her credit report. Money Advice Service has a useful page on how to do this - it is cheap (£2) or free to do and will immediately tell you if someone else is using her address for anything untoward.

  2. Check with the Post Office whether anyone has set up a redirect on mail to your Mum's address. You can redirect by individual names, so if Joe Bloggs buys a bunch of stuff and has it sent to him at your Mum's address, he could set up a redirect at the Post Office so any post for Joe Bloggs at that address gets redirected to Joe Blogg's real address. There is a page about this on the Post Office website, I don't know exactly how to check if someone else has set this up but I'm sure the Post Office would help you find out.

Additionally, I would consider visiting the address (the same house number in the "Road" where hers is in the "Avenue") and see whether the occupants have anything useful to say about this. I would just say you'd had some mis-delivered post, and want to check what their names are so that you can pass on anything that is intended for them that comes to your address (and ask them to do likewise for you). Depending on how that goes you could also ask about the ebay store and see whether it really is them that set it up.

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