Please read - our AT&T accounts were hacked over the weekend, and I want to share this information with you!

Please read - our AT&T accounts were hacked over the weekend, and I want to share this information with you!

OK, this is really long, but it is the documentation we've done since Saturday for our AT&T cell phone hack. If you have an AT&T account, PLEASE, if you haven't, put a passcode on it. We have no idea how these hackers got this far without our being notified during the process rather than after.

Saturday, 11/17/12
2:47 pm: My husband gets a text from AT&T: “Your authorized user was changed for the account ending in ****. Our phones say: Smart chip not provisioned MM#2” and Emergency calls only.
2:48 pm: My husband gets a second text from AT&T: Your account passcode was created for your account.
5:22 pm: My husband sees and reads the text messages and tries to use his phone, and he can’t get through. We try to test our phones, and they do not work.
5:45 pm: we call AT&T from our land line, (which thankfully we still have).
We are told by a very helpful and interested sales rep that our account code has been changed, (we actually think “created” because we could find no reference to us ever having created one...) to **** by Alexander Therepanova. He calls AT&T 51 times in two hours on 11/17. He calls once to ask about upgrading on 11/14 and twice on 11/15. Alexander upgrades a new contract with AT&T and tells AT&T that he will be going out of the country for 4 years and authorizes his nephew to run the account. Upgrades are made to the data plan. He goes to the Apple store and buys 2 Apple G4 iphones. He puts himself on as the only authorized user for 4 years – no exceptions. He cancels our SIM cards and we cannot get new SIM cards for 30 days. We are told that Alexander can continue making calls until this is resolved. We are assured that we will not have to pay for any calls or charges on this account from 11/10/12 forward. (It is now 7:15 pm)
The 30-day wait for new SIM cards does not come up again. We need to go to an AT&T store ASAP, tell them this is fraud, and tell them to give us a new SIM card. We also need to tell them to look up the GPS unit for these new phones of ours. We change our password. We checked My husband's credit scores with Experian and Transunion.

We received an AT&T email on how to check our status online. On 11/17 someone has added a 3-gig data plan and international roaming plan upgrade to both of our phone numbers.
11:15 am: We went online and checked my credit scores with Experian. We began changing passwords to our email accounts.
1:30 pm: After further conversations with AT&T Customer Service, we go to the Vallejo AT&T store. It is there that things begin to unravel.
We got our new SIM cards and our phones back up and working again, and we figured out why they hacked us. It turns out that we had run out of our two-year contract, and we were eligible for a substantial discount on a new Apple iphone. They only took over our account so that they could buy an iphone at a discount and resell it on Craigslist or Ebay. The AT&T store in Vallejo was swamped with other folks just like us. We were told that this seems to be hitting the Fairfield, Vallejo, and Davis areas. Most of the hijackers names are Russian sounding. It's a new scam from some Russian gang, we guess, or people using Russian-sounding names. The sad part is that the poor fool that buys the iphone will not be able to use it. On Tuesday morning, 11/20/12, we are going to permanently block the phones so that they can never be used. We can’t block them before Tuesday because it takes 24 – 72 hours for the phones to register with AT&T, and they can’t be blocked until they’re registered. What a pain in the keester it has been for the last 24 hours.

Anyone out there with AT&T should probably change your 4-digit pass code, and if you don't know what we’re talking about, you really should call and set one up. We don't think we ever set up a pass code, so the fraudsters just called up customer service, pretended to be my husband or me, and they were off to the races. They had us successfully blocked out of our own accounts!


Monday 11/19/12

We spoke with the Fraud Department and Customer Service and we are assured we will not have to pay for any charges or upgrades. We logged into our online account and were required to use our passcode. Everything looks ok. We believe we are part of this bigger scam because it plays out in that there are no new calls on our phone bill. These people wanted the hardware for resale, not our accounts. The first call to AT&T by “Alexander Therenova” came in on Wednesday, 11/14, and we found out about all this on Saturday, 11/17. The Fraud Department is closed on weekends. We think we remember being told that we could likely get new iphones like that for a heavily discounted price of $200. They sell new for a lot more than that to people who are still within in their 2-year contracts or who have lost or broken their phones. People want to have to have the latest thing. Ebay and Craigslist is a good way to sell for below market price. In some cases, but not with ours, the billing address had been changed so that if the phones were out of stock at the Apple store, they’d be sent to an address in New York; they’re hacking west coast phone numbers. (This may be a way to track them, but if they hit hard and fast enough, who knows?) There is no need to do a GPS track, as the iphones purchased through our account may still be “New in Box”.

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Belle (Orchid Lady) November 20, 2012 at 07:00 PM
I am sorry that happened to you! I am glad that it has all worked out.
Mary Richardson November 20, 2012 at 08:41 PM
Thank you so much! I just got off my, hopefully, final call to AT&T to have the serial numbers of the phones blocked so they can't be used. I will say that everyone at AT&T was very caring and helpful - for that I am grateful!
Cathy Gumina Odom November 21, 2012 at 05:03 AM
Wow! What will gangs and hackers do now?
Karen Hutchison Calhoun November 22, 2012 at 05:25 AM
It happened to me on Friday. I called AT&T when I got the text message. The original 4-digit passcode is the last 4 digits of your social security number. I got mine changed to a new number. On Saturday, my daughters phone wouldn't work and I called back. They told me about a person with a Russian name buying an iPhone5 on her line. They actually called the fraud dept and had it fixed and it was the weekend. They were very helpful, in fact during the whole thing I had a nice chat with the service agent in Oklahoma. I'm surprised I haven't heard anything on the news about this... I have another friend that it happened to as well.
Louisa Hufstader (Editor) November 22, 2012 at 05:53 AM
I'm not just surprised, I am downright annoyed that this is happening to my neighbors and friends yet I can't find anything in the tech or mainstream press. Am I not using the right search terms? Please, anyone with an experience like Mary's and Karen's, I'd like to know more.
Mary Richardson November 22, 2012 at 06:51 AM
OMG! I'm so glad I posted this! Karen - I'm sorry this happened to you, your daughter and friend as well! Is your daughter's phone plan connected to yours? Someone at AT&T did tell us that they were surprised that we weren't even upgraded to the latest iphone5, and they thought that was odd. (If you saw my phone, you'd laugh - we've never had an iphone, and mine looks something like a Star Trek communicator!) Ok, so that's 4 people that we know of from Napa Patch alone! Aargh! LOUISA, you have the media connections, start workin' them, girl! I have a way of jumping on things quickly; I'll bet you could get a big story with this if you contact the big boys in the news! You've got pull, I'm just a lonely blogger - :)
Mary Richardson November 22, 2012 at 06:54 AM
Well, not really lonely - Out of 3 people's comments, 4 people to two have been hacked. i say that's pretty bad odds!
Karen Hutchison Calhoun November 22, 2012 at 07:25 AM
Yes Mary, I have 4 lines on my account, and my daughter's is one. AT&T said that the crook had called them from a Best Buy Store to find out which lines were available for upgrade. Then, at the same time that I was talking to them on the phone about the "Authorized User" being changed, the crook went to an Apple store and bought the new iPhone 5 with my daughter's upgrade.
Mary Richardson November 22, 2012 at 07:47 PM
I suspected so - I have more to say, but it'll wait til tomorrow - Have a nice Thanksgiving, Karen! Thanks for your posts!
Doris Smith December 16, 2012 at 01:40 AM
The hacking continues. I just had eight - yes, that's 8 - lines added to my account. One shows an apple Iphone 5 as being used. AT&T was wonderful about blocking all lines and issuing a new SIM card for the phone that was hacked. I'll be at the police station on Monday to file a police report. What a pain in the *****!
Mary Richardson December 16, 2012 at 02:41 AM
Aach, Doris, I am so sorry to hear this! I spent so much time on it right before Thanksgiving, I kind of ran out of steam. And, here it is, right before Christmas - hmmmm .....! It sounds like you've already visited the AT&T store and contacted the AT&T fraud department? If not, you'll need to do that Monday - they're closed on the weekends. (Very convenient - NOT!) Did they give you a Russian-sounding name who was your hacker? Are you sure the iphone was used and not just purchased? I was surprised that I did not hear anything about this whole scam in the news. I know Louisa was looking. If the police want any more information and I can help, please let me know. I did not contact them myself. Best regards, Mary
Doris Smith December 16, 2012 at 05:56 PM
Mary - AT&T gave me no details on who hacked me. The fraud department is open on weekends now though. They told me there has been a rash of hacking. I, too, wonder why there is no warning posted to At&T customers to protect their accounts.
Mary Richardson December 19, 2012 at 02:10 AM
Hi Doris, I'm curious if you went the police, and if so, what did they say?
Jamie March 07, 2013 at 03:14 AM
I just had the same thing happen to me. Someone hacked into my online account, changed my password, address, and email. Luckily I had text alerts set up on my cell phone. Seems the person then went into an Apple store and upgraded "their" plan to purchase a new phone. The thing that made me mad was that when I called the fraud department at AT&T the would barely give me any of the fraudulent info when I said I was collecting to provide to the police. The wouldn't even give me the Apple store information that it took place in, unless I had a subpoena. Wow!! Aren't I the customer? Seems odd they are protecting the hacker!! I did file an identity theft report at the police station. I hope they catch the lazy ass who needs to get a frickn job and work for their money like everyone else! Seriously contemplating dropping AT&T after their actions though. That's not ok in my book
Mary Richardson March 07, 2013 at 07:26 PM
I am sorry to hear this, Jamie. Other than taking your report, what did the police say to you? I noticed a tendency, too, for At&t not to not want to give out their information. I learned to take my own notes, while being polite, yet firm. They take computer notes on their end. I'd tell them what to put in the notes, and then have them read them back to me. My fraud was 3 months ago. I think I was on the forefront. This has been going on far too long. I learned to speak to a manager right away. It saves time. Get their name and contact information. The people who answer the phones can be hesitant about giving out this information, but if you persist, you'll get through. And, remember to check your next bill. They need to reverse any "new" charges you've incurred. ALL of them, including the charge for switching back to your original status. They overcharged us $4, but when I caught it and complained, they reversed them.
Stephanie March 15, 2013 at 03:37 PM
Mary, this happened to us yesterday - almost identical to your story with the text messages and the new account name and address. They tried to get a bunch of new lines/phones yesterday. We are almost 100% positive it was the clerk in the AT&T store that sold me my new phone last month that got the info to do this in the first place. We didn't have the passcode either - and the AT&T clerk entered that info when I got my new phone. Our account also has the phones of our two young children. One phone, my son's, is literally only for him to call us in an emergency. Used once in 2 years. NO ONE knows the number apart from my hubby and I. But when I got my new iPhone the AT&T store clerk had to use that phone's upgrade ability to get my new iPhone since my number wasn't eligible yet and would be in March. Interesting yesterday my number was eligible for an upgrade. And yesterday was when it happened. I googled around a little bit (that's how I found you) and a clerk in a nearby AT&T store was arrested last month for this. I bet you cash money the clerks are selling people's info - when they are setting up new phones, whatever. They can see on the account screen who is a good candidate to be hacked. And they are selling the information. Guarantee it. The fraud department fixed it all but they seemed uninterested in getting to the bottom of it.
Stephanie March 15, 2013 at 03:42 PM
Forgot to mention the hacker said they got a new SIM card for my son's phone and needed to activate it and were trying to upgrade my phone and then add lines. How on earth would a person KNOW of my son's line at all? Or pick the exact day my phone was eligible for an upgrade to try and upgrade it? And the clerk was given the last four digits of my hubby's SSN to activate my new phone while I was at the store last month - and obviously saw all 3 numbers associated with our account. It's the only answer that makes sense to me. Especially in light that a clerk in West Palm Beach was recently arrested for this.
Danielle Bustamante April 02, 2013 at 07:14 PM
This happened to me on Easter Sunday. I too was locked out of my own account. I was told by Customer Service that someone had the last 4 digits of my social and was able to access my account to add international calling and had apparently been making calls to Cuba. Because the fraud dept is closed on the weekends I was unable to make any changes till Monday morning. Unfortunately, my 15 year old son is vacationing with family and now has no cell phone access until he returns. I was given new SIM cards, changed my 4 digit access code, put fraud alerts on all of my accounts, notified the credit bureaus and was assured by AT&T that I would not be responsible for the calls made internationally. AT&T was pretty helpful and shut down my account within an hour of the fraudulent changes made, but still.. What a pain.
Mary Richardson April 04, 2013 at 09:47 PM
Hi Danielle, Thanks for taking the time to write on this blog post. Over the last five, count them, 5, months I have been in contact with management at AT&T about this and sent them a detailed account of my experience and have followed up with all of these descriptive posts. I can't believe this is still happening. I am very sorry you got targeted. :( It seems to happen especially around a big holiday when things like the fraud department tend to close. I will email your experience to them now, as well. You are right - WHAT A PAIN!
Unknown May 02, 2013 at 03:43 AM
I am reading a lot of this and and I am finding a lot of false info whether it is from reps or whom ever. Reps in cellular call centers can not release personal sensitive due to FCC policy info such as name of last rep, notes, numbers text or call log, reps are not by any means to give out work ID's for their protection and customers of someone calling I. To access an account they have no business accessing adding lines, changing SIM cards adding and removing features etc...! Reps witness so many people trying to do anything imaginable all day every day.
Unknown May 02, 2013 at 03:49 AM
When call center reps are highly monitored no cell phones or other personal electronic devices are allowed in work area .
armywife6 May 06, 2013 at 08:10 PM
I got a call today saying they were from AT&T customer service & that even showed up on my caller ID. They told me that my account was going to be suspended for 8-10 hours and they were giving me a waiver number, to get one month of free service for the inconvenience. I did give them my name, but then I heard a baby in the background so I hung up. About 20 minutes later I decided to call AT&T, because I got an email saying that my daughter's & my sim cards had been changed. Within the 20 minutes, someone had changed our sim card #s and upgraded our acct to add international service to it. Wow!!
Mary Richardson May 06, 2013 at 09:54 PM
Hello Amy, I was just thinking that the next round, unless this had been fixed, would be over Memorial Day weekend, the next holiday weekend. Good for you to be as proactive as possible. That is weird. I don't think AT&T ever suspends anyone's account like that, and they certainly don't give out a free month's worth of service. If it was from AT&T, they would have had your name in front of them. Good ear to hear the baby! That's really ballsy of them to call you directly. At least you have instantly stopped them from successfully adding the international service! Good job! Scammers. Pleh.
Kevin May 13, 2013 at 05:25 PM
Had the same experience. Got a call from a guy claiming to be with T-Mobile and asking for my address. I told him I was with AT&T and not changing. He said he needed my info to confirm I didn't want the services. I refused again and he hung up. Got a call from AT&T that two lines were added to my account, one 5/10 and one 5/11. I called them back to make sure I was talking to the real fraud protection. I strongly suggest that you add a password to do any business with AT&T in person or over the phone. (The guy who was using our info fradulently actually went into the AT&T store in Washington DC. We weren't anywhere near DC)


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