Friday, May 16, 2008

Identity Theft

That's right - this week I went online and got my free credit report and found an unscrupulous person had my social security number. Over the last 5-6 weeks they had opened 5 different credit card accounts, all with very high credit limits. The cards had not been used to a great degree - YET!

Today, a fraud prevention specialist at one of the banks told me this scenario is common - the thieves get as many accounts open as they can and slowly begin to activate them - once they are assured the cards are valid, they swoop in and start spending.

In my case, the cards were in my name (first name spelled differently)with different male first names (and my last name) as authorized users. The only thing they had was my name and social - EVERY other identifier, mother's maiden name, phone, address, email, was false. I am so fortunate, most of the time people do not know this is going on for months and months. As one bank employee said today, "by the time most people find out what is going on it is such a mess to clean up and your credit is in shambles."

Why did I get the credit report? It is so weird. I worked at home on Wednesday, late in the afternoon I flipped down the flat screen under the kitchen cabinet and turned it on. I was sitting at the center island engrossed in my work (not even aware of the TV) when all of a sudden my attention was drawn to a commercial. The commercial was get your free credit report.

For some reason, in the middle of working on a client project, I thought - "wow, it has been ages since I have done that." I stopped work, went online and downloaded my report. That's when I discovered the identity theft. Whew, angels on my shoulder I guess.

In any case, I have now put a lock on my credit report and have invested a ton of hours in talking on the phone. If you haven't looked at your credit report lately - please do so. I have no idea how anyone got my social - but it is serious and they are without a conscience.

7 comments:

  1. Holy Cripes Suzann. Thank God you checked this out. This is just what we all worry about...but never really think that much about. I'm going to check mine out too. Honestly, it's frightening....truly frightening. Thanks sweetie....

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  2. wow very scary and good advice. We had someone use one of our credit cards falsely. We weren't charged but it was a hassle and we had to stop that card and get a new number. The bad part is there seems to be no way to catch these thieves and the end result is all bank customers pay for the theft from the richest to the poorest :( What I hate is whenever you apply for a department store card or so many other things, they want your SS number. They claim it's safe but who knows. I am reluctant to give it out. The other place I have seen it is on places like ancestor.com where they can give people's addresses and a lot of other info that most of us would prefer only friends and legitimate businesses have.

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  3. i wish you knew how they got your ssn and name. i suppose it is fairly easy in today's world. i worry about shopping on the net, about using my credit cards when shopping by phone and wonder constantly if the companies where i use cards shred the information they keep.

    this all makes me so nervous. i am already under an alert that one of my instituions had a computer hard drive theft and my personal information could have been part of that theft. The institution DOESN'T EVEN KNOW how to identify all of the information which was stolen! so i have had all of the credit agencies open a credit alert on my account so that i must be notified if anyone tries to open a new account using my name or identifying information. there is nothing we can do but wait!

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  4. I'm sorry this happened to you, but I'm so glad you discovered it before things got out of hand. All this stuff is so incredibly scary to me. I haven't gotten a credit report for a few years but you've reminded me it is time. I have had a few people attempting to use cards of mine, but the credit card companies have called me.

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  5. This is a good reminder that I need to check my reports. Surely am sorry that you've had this to deal with, but interesting that you followed an instinct, or whatever you might want to call it, and caught all of this so early.

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