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Tracking down the source of online purchases
From: David Farber <dave () farber net>
Date: Tue, 23 Sep 2008 14:55:13 -0400

Begin forwarded message:

From: Tony Wasserman <tonyw () acm org>
Date: September 23, 2008 1:10:16 PM EDT
To: dave () farber net
Subject: Tracking down the source of online purchases
Reply-To: tonyw () acm org


For IP if you think that it is relevant...

Thanks and best wishes.

Tony Wasserman


I recently received a package from Amazon.com with an item that I did not order. The packing slip showed my name and home address as both the billing and shipping address, with my first name slightly misspelled. My first concern was identity theft: someone had enough information about me, and made a small purchase to see that the purchase would go through, in advance of making larger purchases.

When I called Amazon.com's customer service to ask about this item, they provided absolutely no help at all, even as I went through three levels of escalation of their "customer service". All they said is that "for security reasons", they could not provide me with any information about the order, even though I had provided them with the customer order number. I told them that I was worried about my security, not theirs, but they were absolutely unwilling to go beyond their scripted responses. If someone sent me a gift, that's nice, but they wouldn't tell me anything about who placed the order. There's no way to call their corporate office; all you can do is send snail mail.

Of course, it is difficult, expensive, and time-consuming to deal with possible identify theft, especially when one encounters such an uncooperative response from a merchant. Have others had different or better experiences with Amazon.com, or is this incident just a signal that Amazon.com can't and won't help with such problems? Do other online merchants react similarly to this type of problem?

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