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ID Theft

July 28th, 2007 at 05:07 pm

Well, one of my worst fears happened today. ID Theft...

It sucks.

But I feel lucky. Thank you to the very astute fraud department of Express...

The weird news is I get my FICO score from WAMU and I happened to get an update yesterday. My score was down 20 points BUT I had just opened a bunch of accounts and maxed 1 card in a balance transfer. I didn't find it particularly odd, but I did kind of think maybe I should check my credit report. Must have been a gut feel.

Today we went to the gym and when we got back there was a message from Express credit card about my Express account. Frankly I thought it sounded suspiscous and wasn't even going to return the call. But I did some online investigating and didn't see much. I Called and they asked for my SS#. I Said no way in hell and argued with them a bit and hung up. They wouldn't tell me why they called, but I figured at this point I would pull my credit report.

A Lowes card for $3k had been opened and maxed out Monday. I called them right away and got it straightened out. They were very nice/fast. Was on the phone merely minutes - but the fraud department will call me next week to resolve/finalize things.

I then called 1 credit card bureau like the new recommendation says. The FTC says that they will then in turn notify the other 2. Placed a fraud alert with all the bureaus. Dh and I vented and fumed all day. I called my mom. She was going on about those online transactions. The interesting thing is this was obvious someone stole my records. They had my SS# & address, but that is it. I have received 2 notifications from 2 different professional associations in the last year that had records stolen so I am guessing those would be the most likely suspects. But really who knows. The fact is someone only need to break in my office to steal tons of SS#s and personal info. It's all right there for the grabbing. We were brainstorming how easy it was to get everyone's SS#s at our first job. lord knows where they stole my identity from!!!!!! It really could have been taken just about from anywhere. It is the records in business that are so easy for the taken, more than online stuff...

Anyway, later I thought twice and decided to call back the other 2 bureaus. I also tried to call Express back once I verified their phone # but fraud department was closed until Monday. They are obviously on it and I bow down to them. I have no idea how they found my true phone # but I am so grateful. I think they will save me a lot of grief.

When I called the other 2 Bureaus, Experian said go online and I could check my credit report. I figured I would look and see if anything had changed from the few hours I called Lowes. Unlikely, but who knows. It popped up that Macys, Sears and Express had done a credit pull yesterday (did not show up on equifax). So I spent the afternoon calling them. macy's was kind of eh. But Sears was very nice and said they closed the accounts, will notify the bureaus, and will call me next week. They gave me a pin # to use when talking with them. All the fraud departments are mostly closed for the weekend. All of these cards were opened and pretty much maxed yesterday.

Express pulled my credit report twice today - I am sure they froze the account so will just deal with them Monday. They would have to be morons not to with all the credit activity on my usual dormant account. OMG I am so relieved they called.

I will file complaints with the FTC and the police on monday. I'll see if anything else pops up, and once I get a police report or something I can freeze my credit for free. I have been looking at the pros/cons of this and mostly ASAP I will do that. Lord knows who has my SS#. I have no need to apply for any loans, insurance or job in the near future. The horrible downside is you have to pay a fee to remove the freeze anytime you need a credit pull (new job, mortgage, whatever). But I think in the long run it will give me some decent peace of mind. I also have dh to fall back on - I can use his credit to get by if anything comes up and we don't want to pay the fee to unfreeze my credit.

I checked his credit too and looks fine.

The upside I guess is none of my account info was stolen and nothing was stolen off me. The downside is lord knows how much more credit they got and even moreso where this all originated.

For the most part you have wonder what the hell though these places are thinking letting someone open a card on the other side of the country with my California address, and maxing out the card right away. ???? IT is just so frustrating that companies can overlook so obvious fraud in the name of profits. Obviously they get paid well to eat the fraud charges and allow instant credit.

So lord knows if this is the entire war, or just the first battle. All I know is I will spend a good chunk of next week filing reports and making phone calls. On the other hand I think when you hear of stories of fraud in past times the police and the law enforcement, the companies and the victims, just didn't really know what to do. There are a lot of resources out there and by catching it right away I didn't get any hassle (yet). I guess I Can hope all the cards carry through and notify the bureaus and erase it and move on. Time will tell I guess...

Well, I'll keep you updated...

10 Responses to “ID Theft”

  1. scfr Says:

    OMG - What a true nightmare for you! I am so sorry, but am glad you figured out something was going on so quickly. I wonder if they could get pictures of the person from the Lowes security tape in the store where they opened the card???

  2. StressLess Says:

    Gee, I'm sorry this has happened, but thanks for sharing the details of how you are handling it. My bank was hacked recently, and that's what they got, too--social security number. Your post gives me a better idea of what to watch for.

  3. Stein Says:

    Bummer. It sounds like you are on it, my only advice is to file a police report even if you decide not to freeze your credit now, you have it if you need to. I would love to freeze my report, but in WA, you need to be a victim before you can protect yourself.

  4. baselle Says:

    Good luck. You might also want to check that you had always gotten your mail.

  5. Broken Arrow Says:

    Wow, very sorry to hear what happened.

    Please keep us updated with all the details. I am personally very interested in seeing how this will be resolved.

  6. monkeymama Says:

    The interesting thing is our mail box is locked and I generally send mail out that way too - through a locked box. Of course I think I have mailed one thing all year long myself.

    Then again some of our clients had problems with check washing last year and they eventually traced it to our post office - mail theft ring. The common ring was they were all mailed to our office and never arrived all the checks). Well I had been complaining for years that my mail kept disappearing and refused to use the work mail. But I can't imagine I sent anything with my SS# & birth date. I hadn't used my work mail for years for anything important (like it had to get there by a deadline). For all I know that's where it could have started though - through the post office or mail.

    Nothing's been missing but who knows - a piece of mail could have been stolen. But yes we were discussing how MOST identity theft starts at the mail box. We seem to have enough precaution for that. Not much you can do when the post office is in on it though.

  7. monkeymama Says:

    I forgot to tell you it looks like about $10k in the course of a week.

    The frustrating thing is that they spent $3k on monday and about 7k yesterday (depending on what Express says and if there is more or not). I wonder are they going to try again? Is anyone going to pay attention to the fraud alert on my account? It will take a few days to get the freeze in place. Will the freeze really work? Are they applying for phones and utilities in my name too (how will I know?)?????

    Frown

  8. monkeymama Says:

    Stein - yes - thanks - it was recommended to do that no matter what to cover your butt (file police report).

    I found that you can do so online. Unfortunately it seems to be a common problem. But on the bright side rather easy to clear up. I remember the stories that you call the credit cards and they can't tell you anything if it wasn't you, etc. People would go round and round on this. Seems like things have improved. I was impressed Sears gave me a pin # so only I can talk to them about the case - no imposter.

    In this case they all already knew, the other companies just could not figure out how to call me. I do not know if Express was that good or what - I will be curious how they got my home #. The rest were given phony #s. My # is unlisted too so it is that much more impressive Express tracked me down. Unless the thieves were stupid enough to give them my number. Anyway, I think it helped me that it was so obvious fraud and they were already kind of on it. Lord knows why they let them max out all the cards before the red flags sounded though. ????? BEcause of my impeccable credit I guess. I don't know!

  9. Ima saver Says:

    Sorry to hear this, I hope it can be resolved quickly.

  10. frugaltexan75 Says:

    Wow, I'm sorry to hear this has happened to you. I hope everything works out without too much trouble.

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