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What happens if someone steals your phone number?

Posted at 7:02 AM, Nov 02, 2021
and last updated 2021-11-02 10:02:22-04

PHOENIX — How important is your phone number? And how vulnerable are you if it's used by someone else to open a financial account, such as a bank account?

Lynn reached out to the Let Joe Know team after she received a text message to her phone, but was addressed to someone else. That text message said a Chime bank card was on its way for someone named "Roberto"

Problem was that Lynn had never heard of Chime, a financial company that helps with money transfers, and does not know anyone named Roberto.

She thought it was a mistake, but when she received another text about it, she wondered where was this card going to be delivered, was it delivered, and why was her phone number connected to it?

Also important, could she be responsible for how the card is used?

Many banks have mobile apps for online banking and cash transfers, and companies like Zelle, Venmo, and CashApp allow people to send money easily between bank accounts and to each other.

"How do you set up these accounts? How do you ID an account by a telephone number?" Lynn wondered.

Lynn said she has had the same phone number for years and did not want to give it up.

She said she contacted Chime many times and was told that she would have to send in proof that the account wasn't hers.

"Your Social Security card, your photo ID and a copy of my phone bill. And I said that's insane," Lynn said.

Lynn said she's had her ID taken at least three times and was not going to send her personal information to the company. She said her bank account wasn't connected to the account, but she was concerned that it would be accessed somehow through her phone number.

At the very least, she thought this person could make it a big hassle.

"If he doesn't do things, Chime will be calling me, not Roberto," she said.

After not being able to get answers, she contacted Let Joe Know.

We reached out to Chime and they investigated the situation.

According to an email sent to Lynn, they said another member "had the incorrect phone number associated with their account." They confirmed it was a fake account and was ultimately closed.

She was concerned about how easily something like a phone number can be used or taken.

"Someone could be using my phone number for God knows what with no recourse," she said.

Chime told Lynn that she would not be responsible for any account activity. Chime did not respond to ABC15's repeated requests for more information.