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Identity Theft

January 20th, 2013 by judytalks

Everyone’s heard of it, and scared of it. Identity theft. Fraudulent use of your information – bank account, credit card, social security number, financial account. No one anticipates that this will happen to you. It happens.

In December I received a statement from a bank in which I no longer held an account. There was a charge on a credit card I had shredded 14 months previously. The card had never been loaned, lost, or stolen. But there it was. A small charge to a credit report company, of all places.

I called the bank immediately and talked through the situation – what they would do, what I would do. I called the number listed for the company where the charge was made. We discussed the charge, I was given the name of the individual, though the police later told me that means nothing, and I went on the AZ government website to see if there was anything else I should be doing. It was recommended I make a police report. The charge on my card was under $20.00, but I knew that could only be the beginning. I made a police report and followed their recommendation to file an online report to the FBI.

To say this is frightening is an understatement. I do everything possible to safeguard my identity. I shred everything. I change passwords frequently. I check statements, accounts, and I subscribe to Triple Alert. Someone opened an account on a credit report website with my shredded credit card.

The only way you can be completely safe is to live on an island by yourself. Have no personal information that can be stolen. Understand that if you are a victim, you have to act immediately, document everything said over the phone, keep records together, file reports with authorities, and be prepared to make repeat calls to the bank (they didn’t follow up appropriately), and to the place(s) where charges were made. They didn’t follow up correctly either. Clip everything together, make notes to yourself, and keep the papers handy for quick reference.

I hope this is taken care of, but I’m not holding my breath. Since this happened, I’ve talked with several people where I live who have experienced identity theft. It can rear its ugly head months or years later. You need police reports to prove yourself to some creditors, so tough it out.

Cyber space isn’t all it’s cracked up to be. It’s a jungle out there. Take care.

Judy

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