The News Courier in Athens, Alabama

Local News

October 11, 2013

Better Business Bureau warns about name hijacking

From staff reports

The Better Business Bureau is warning local businesses about scams involving so-called “name hijacking.”

According to the BBB, a Huntsville business reported it was a victim of “name hijacking” after learning someone fraudulently used the company’s name to make purchases with apparently stolen credit card numbers.

The BBB said the owner became aware of his company’s name being used to purchase computer supplies when he received a call from a supplier in Belle Glade, Fla., who wanted to verify a large order. The business owner confirmed he had not placed the order and became alarmed when he learned a purchase order with his company logo and address had been used to place the order.

The Huntsville business owner also learned there had already been several other orders placed in his company’s name and the bogus purchaser requested the supplies be shipped to a storage facility in Birmingham. A phone number appearing on the purchase order led the owner and the BBB to the individual using the fake orders.

The BBB has been in touch with the storage facility and confirmed that at least one large shipment had been received. The information was provided to law enforcement authorities.

“We have been seeing the crime of name hijacking increase nationally during the past few years,” said Michele Mason, president of BBB serving North Alabama. “Unfortunately, many times a company doesn’t actually learn that their good name has been used to defraud other companies until after the con artist has been successful.

“Fortunately, in this case, enough information has been shared between the companies that have been defrauded by this con artist that we hope law enforcement will be able to apprehend the criminal.“

In similar cases, some BBB Accredited Businesses have recently reported that someone hijacked their website and put up a bogus site at their registered Web address.

While it’s difficult to detect if a name has been hijacked, the BBB suggests periodic reviews of your company’s name on the Internet to find any sites or activity using your name.  Also, make it a routine to check your company’s website address and make sure no one has hijacked your website or domain registration.

BBB lists these signs of possible name hijacking:

• You receive request to verify orders you didn’t place

• You receive calls from someone trying to verify an address for your business that is not associated with your company

• You receive invoices for storage or shipping services that you didn’t place.

Contact the BBB at 256-533-1640 or 800-239-1642; by email at or visit

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