A Tasmanian woman has been the victim of sophisticated identity theft after a replica licence was used to make a purchase at a Telstra store in Sydney.
When Louise Turner received an email from Telstra on June 3 about her new billing account, she thought it must've been an error, but two days later she received a second email thanking her for opening a new account.
Sitting in her home in Northern Tasmania, Ms Turner knew something wasn't right so she contacted the telecommunications company.
She was repeatedly told by customer service staff it was simply a data entry error, with a new account being linked to Ms Turner's mistakenly because they had the same surname.
"Two days later I received a bill for the new account. At that point, I contacted Telstra again and they took me a bit more serious and suspended that account," she said.
After weeks of trying to find out what happened, Ms Turner complained to the telecommunications ombudsman.
"No one cared until I contacted the telecommunications ombudsman," she said.
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Ms Turner was contacted by Telstra's fraud customer care team, who also said it was a data entry error, getting Ms Turner's account confused with a Leanne Turner's account.
But Ms Turner was quick to point out her name was Leanne, with Louise her middle and preferred name.
Ms Turner expressed concern that the fraud was only taken seriously because she was persistent and did a significant amount of research to educate herself about this type of identity theft.
A Telstra spokesman said privacy and account security was taken extremely seriously. "In this case, we investigated the matter as soon as we were made aware of the transaction and we cancelled the account in question," the spokesman said.
Telstra provided a credit to Ms Turner as a "gesture of goodwill". A copy of the replica licence was not taken because there was an error with the store's scanner.
The dodgy transaction was captured on CCTV, which the store reviewed as part of an internal investigation.
"Telstra won't tell me what exactly went on," Ms Turner said. Tasmania Police Inspector Darren Hopkins said details for driver licence duplicates were often obtained from online sources, so it was important to protect social footprints.
The identity theft is being investigated by NSW police.