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The new way thieves are trying to hijack your cellphone account

HOUSTON – We have a consumer alert about a new scam to hijack your cellphone account. If a thief gets access to your account, they can purchase new phones and add new lines and plans.

You would be none the wiser until your next bill. It could take a month or more. It almost happened to KPRC2 News morning producer Erika Adolphus. 

Her caller ID on her cellphone showed someone from Verizon was calling. She answered the phone to a man who claimed to be with the company. 

"'Well, someone ordered a cellphone on your account," Adolphus recalled the man's spiel. '"We need to verify it's you before we can ship it out.'"

The caller told her whoever ordered the phone gave a California shipping address. Adolphus did not order a phone, so she said it must be fraud. 

"And he says, 'OK, well we're gonna have to go through a few steps to reset your account and cancel this order.'"

The caller told Adolphus she would be receiving a six-digit PIN by text. 

"And I get the text and it's got the number and he says 'Now can you read me the number I just sent you?' I kind of paused and go, 'Wait. What?'" said Adolphus. 

That six-digit PIN is what Verizon will text you when you forget your password and type your mobile number on the cell company's website. With the PIN, anyone can reset your password, get into your account and lock you out. 

"I think if I had given him that PIN number, there really would have been a phone going to California and it would have been his," Adolphus said. 

Instead, Adolphus hung up and called the Verizon at the number on her statement. A customer service rep told her no one ordered a phone on her account and the whole thing was a scam.