About 2 years ago, I received an email from Xbox notifying me that my Xbox Live Gold Membership has been confirmed.
Huh. Weird. I don’t have a Xbox.
I ignored the email, writing it off as spam.
A few months later, another email came in telling me that my Gamer Tag has been updated. Again. Weird. It was a modified nickname that I had as a kid. So now, I’m thinking that one of my old friends is using my email to create more Gamer Tags so they can play more games and I really didn’t care.
But, then…it started to bother me. I figured out being that Xbox is a Microsoft product, maybe they use Windows Live. That triggered my memory of a weird email I received about a week before the initial email from Xbox, but it came from Windows Live. Again, thinking at the time, that I was getting spammed, I deleted it.
Just for shits & giggles, I attempted to log in to Windows Live. It let me change my password with no problem whatsoever. So I figured that was the end of that.
UNTIL: I received yet another email confirming that I was now able to play certain games. Curious, I called the 800 number. I explained what was happening. Easy fix they tell me. Go on my Xbox and remove the account. I said: “I don’t have an Xbox.” They responded with: “then how do you know you have a gamer tag?” Round and round we went. It would up being escalated and they finally told me that none of MY information was being utilized, someone must have just put in my email by mistake. DON’T WORRY ABOUT IT.
Okay. Fine. I didn’t worry about it. Every time I got an email, I logged into Windows Live tried to see if there was any info on this mysterious user (of course not) and changed my password. This went on every quarter for the past year.
Today I got another email. Went through my routine of logging into Windows Live to check if anything changed and fancy that…Microsoft decided that all their products should talk to each other.
I was able to see:
The Avatar (cute lil cartoon skater kid)
MY email address
The Skater Kid’s home address
The Skater Kid’s phone number
The last four digits of the Skater Kid’s parents credit card.
SURPRISINGLY: Skater Kid has my name. AND MY LAST NAME. (my last name is VERY uncommon)
I reverse looked up the phone number on whitepages.com. The address was the same there as it was on Windows Live. The GREAT thing about whitepages.com – it tells you the name of the people who live in the house and their ages. BINGO
Guess what I did when I got home from work today? That’s right. I called Skater Kid’s house. Blocking my number, of course.
Here’s how it went:
Ring Ring Ring
Skater Kid: Hello? (lil guy had the cutest voice btw)
Me: Hi. Is Mr. Insert My Last Name Here (ie. Mr Skater Kid) available please?
Skater Kid: um…um…I…uh….
Mr. Insert My Last Name Here: Hello? (very adult New York accent voice – Brooklynese, for lack of a better term.)
Me: Hi Mr. Insert My Last Name Here. This is going to sound strange, but my name is Christine and I think that your child is using my email address to either gain access to games on Xbox or put the wrong email address in to gain access. I am calling because I can see all of your information in the profile and I thought you should know.
Mr. Skater Kid: What?
(I explain again and read him his street address, phone number and the last four of his credit card and my email address. I reiterated that I think it happened because the email was entered incorrectly on Xbox or whatever platform was used to purchase the subscription.)
Mr. Skater Kid: *heavy sigh* My son’s name is Chris. Hold on. (he asks his kid what his email is – turns out, the only difference is that the kid has a number in his email and I don’t)
I offer to email Mr. Skater Kid the email I received today and he is very thankful that I called. He makes a comment that our last name is so uncommon - what are the odds? We laugh it off.
After I hung up, I got to thinking…Skater Kid, I mean, Chris can’t be more than 10 by the sound of his voice. I’m sure Mr. My Last Name is pretty pissed that Chris put in the wrong email address. I hope he realized the repercussions if it wasn’t someone like me doing the right thing and calling to let them know what was happening.
I understand most parents don’t want to be bothered with setting up their kid’s gaming profiles. Some don’t even know that this is required with some systems. Others think their kids can do it without their help.
Kids have no idea the predators that are lurking out there. As a parent, you are their first line of defense. Take the time to set up their online accounts, whether it’s an email, Facebook, Twitter or gaming account.
Because it may not be someone like me calling to let you know about your personal information being sent out to who knows where. Next time it might be a predator picking your child up from the bus stop.