This week I was the victim of Identity Theft. I don’t think anybody was hurt, but a crime was definitely committed, and the criminals were not caught.
On Monday I received a welcome packet from First Data, complete with charge slips and a sticker to put on my business window. The account was in the name of a company I used to own that had at one time processed credit card transactions with a merchant account.
On Tuesday morning I called First Data. We decided that this was just a mistake and I should throw the kit out.
On Wednesday afternoon I received an email from Nova asking for some additional information to complete my account. I sent back an email raising a red flag, which resulted in a phone call about 30 minutes later.
That phone call made me aware that someone had applied for an account in my name. They had my address, my closed company name, a copy of my utility bill. I’m still not sure if they faked the bill or if they stole one out of my mailbox, I’m leaning towards it being a fake for reasons I’ll omit here.
I signed up for the Experian 3-in-1 credit report at a cost of $100 for a year of monitoring. You can get your credit report from each agency for free once per year, but in my opinion, you get it a lot easier and quicker if you buy their service. My credit report showed two inquiries, one from First Data and one from AmEx that were about a week old.
I put a 90 day fraud alert on my credit report for all three reporting agencies. The law is that once you report it to one, they must report it to the others, but I was told that this could take up to 24 hours. I made two more calls and it was done in 15 minutes.
Experian 888-397-3742 Equifax 888-766-0008 Trans Atlantic 800-680-7289
On Thursday morning I called First Data again and told them what happened. They immediately closed the account, but the criminals had already charged almost $6000.
On Friday, I received a certified letter from First Data that the $6000 was still in a holding account and will be returned to the card holders.
We all have a lot of information on the internet and we are all susceptible to identity theft. In my case, all they had was my company name and my home address. The faked a utility bill and my signature.
If you are a victim of identity theft, act quickly, contact the credit bureau’s, and put a 90 fraud alert on your credit. A free check of your credit report every now-and-then is a good idea.
This site helps you do get three (disclaimer, I didn’t use this because as I said above, I purchased mine). Never give your credit information to anyone who contacts you initially. You should look up their phone number (on the back of your credit card, in the phone book, on the internet) and call them. Then and only then give your personal information.
If you are the criminal who tried to perpetrate this crime through me, I could say that “you will get caught”, or “get a job”, or “crime doesn’t pay”, but those are cliches that don’t reflect my feelings here. All I can say is “you didn’t get away with this one.” I too once behaved badly and I am not the ONE who stands in judgment. I hope you change your ways, find economic security in a more positive outlet, and that the whole in your stomach gets filled with friendship and love.