WICHITA, Kan. Fred and Joyce Stuart didn’t believe it at first.
“I mean I was totally shocked,” says Joyce.
It's a reaction anyone might have after receiving a $12,000 lease agreement for a massage chair in the mail.
“A very expensive one,” says Joyce.
And the leasing company wanted its money, sending their account to a collections agency.
“They started to get more aggressive, angry sounding," Joyce says.
Fred says they wouldn’t give up.
“They are the most persistent people. I was at the point of getting lawyers," he says.
Instead they called FactFinder 12.
“You were kind of my last hope,” says Joyce.
First, we got the collection agency to close the account. And after our call, the leasing company did its own investigation and was convinced the Stuarts did not order the chair, but someone did.
Someone stole Joyce’s identity, signed online documents in her name, and even forged her signature in person when the chair was delivered.
The receipt shows it may have been delivered to a shipping dock in the area, not to their Harvey County address.
The leasing company investigation found it was even ordered from the Stuart’s Internet Protocol (IP) address.
FF12 talked to three cyber security experts who say there are several possibilities for how this happened. They say it’s likely someone had remote access to their computer by either installing malware, or through their wireless network.
Phishing attacks are a common type of delivery where malicious emails are disguised as legitimate messages.
Joyce had been a victim of identity theft earlier in the year, so it’s possible it’s related.
The experts say that’s why it’s so important to have proper virus protection on your computer and to lock down your wireless network with a strong password. If you think your computer has been compromised, you need to take it to a professional to have it cleaned.
After going through it all, the Stuarts have some advice if your identity is every stolen.
“You have to be strong, fight and say, 'I’m not going to fall on for this,'" Joyce says.