Rotorua woman Sonia Foote is warning others to be careful after someone stole her identity and racked up thousands of dollars in Spark bills - leaving her facing a black mark on her credit rating.
Now she is questioning why Spark did not do more to check the identity of the person who was able to set up an account with just a name and date of birth.
But Spark spokeswoman Chloe Vaughan says in Ms Foote's case, internal processes were not followed properly and the company not only recognised this error but have taken steps to prevent it happening again.
Ms Foote told the Rotorua Daily Post she only found out by chance that she had been a victim of fraud when she tried to change electricity providers and was declined because of her credit rating.
"I thought something was up because I'm squeaky clean. The electricity provider wouldn't give me details but gave me the number for the debt collectors who went on to tell me I had $2069 in unpaid Spark bills.
"At this point I was completely confused because I had never had a Spark account so I rang [Spark] and they confirmed an account had been set up over the phone using my name and date of birth.
"They said that because the credit rating attached to my name came back clean, the account was set up with no further requests for proof of identity or anything."
Ms Foote said she felt "interrogated" by Spark who went on to question whether she had lost her ID.
"It wouldn't have mattered if I had lost my ID, because Spark didn't request proof of identity anyway.
"This is a big issue that everyone should be worried about. The details used to set up this account are easily found on the internet, especially for me because I appear on Wikipedia and mountain biking results online have my date of birth right there.
"It's not something you consider will happen to you, it always happens to other people. I just want people to be aware this could happen to anyone and good people could end up in really desperate situations."
In a written statement to the Rotorua Daily Post, Ms Vaughan said Spark wished to apologise for the inconvenience caused to Ms Foote.
"In this case, the person who set this account up over the phone was able to provide us with Sonia's full name, date of birth, and a legitimate address, all of which matched third-party credit bureau services.
"Our normal process in this situation with regards to over-the-phone account setups is to then request a copy of that identification be provided before the account can proceed. Unfortunately, in this case the usual step in the process was missed.
"The account was opened in December 2016, and this person then ordered a high-end premium smartphone. We closed the account in March 2017 after it went into default, and the phone was immediately blocked from use on any New Zealand network. Sonia contacted our fraud team in May 2017 to advise us of the error and the debt was fully wiped and corrected with the credit agencies."
Ms Vaughan said Spark aimed to strike the right balance between being easy to deal with and protecting people's security and privacy.
"In this case, this person provided accurate information, but our own internal processes were not followed correctly. We have taken steps to prevent reoccurrence, including providing additional training to the agent who handled the call and a reminder to all teams about the importance of always verifying a form of ID.
"This is an issue the entire telecommunications industry and other industries are facing because there are people out there who believe they can take advantage of the system, and that these are victimless crimes. But they aren't - it wastes time and money, causing immense disruption for both the victim of the fraud and the provider."
Rotorua police area prevention manager Inspector Stu Nightingale said he had heard "very little" of this kind of offending happening in Rotorua, but stressed people should always be vigilant.
"If you suspect something odd is going on, you must look into it immediately.
"When it comes to information online, make sure passwords are complex and question everything."
He said some of this type of offending was also based overseas which made it difficult for police to investigate.