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ID Theft AGAIN

October 15th, 2008 at 04:49 pm

You may recall 3 months ago there was a fraudulent charge on our old card we never use.

We just cleared that up like last week. It took about 5 calls to get the last $2 off the stupid card. How annoying, huh?

That one was an odd one because it is a card we had not used in years.

In fact, they were so obnoxious about the whole thing (gave us lots of runaround, particularly over the last $2) that I was ready to cancel the card. I told dh to just cancel the thing. I Was pretty peeved.

Well, today I am glad I didn't. It's the "backup" card that I don't think I have ever had to use. But I got gas yesterday, scanned my 25 cent coupon (25 cent per gallon) and threw it in the large (tall) trash.

Of course, my card was denied. I tried again, I figured I put in zip wrong. But it was denied. In the process I lost my 25 cent coupon. I am usually more superstitious about hanging onto it until I pump my gas, so I was pretty peeved at that point.

I dug out the old State Farm card I had threatened to cancel last month and hoped it would go through. I had absolutely no gas in the tank though I had enough cash to buy 3 gallons at least.

IT went through.

I knew dh was getting ice cream with the kids so I wondered if he had just charged at the same moment or something. I called him and he hadn't paid yet so I warned him card may be declined. HE told me he had just filled the van at the same gas station, earlier in the day anyway, so maybe it just looked suspicious that we both filled up within hours.

Well, his ice cream purchase went through fine. I figured I had entered the zip code wrong. I'd been able to just try again in the past, but who knows. IT seems we had both filled up on the same day before.

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Well, this morning Chase called. They had a $1.95 charge and a $17 charge that we did not recognize. Seemed minute overall, but for whatever reason it tripped their fraud alert. (Don't ask me why they allowed the "rare" ice cream purchase to go through but not gas at the gas station we use every week).

So they closed the cards and we will get new ones in a few days. Our tanks are full, pantry is full, and all that, so I expect we will just not buy anything until they arrive.

I am glad everything I ordered online was already shipped and charged. Phew!

Dh said we will have to notify everyone who charges our card automatically. I don't like that whole automatic charge thing and only our gym does. Funny enough, DISH does too, though we told them we did not want them to do it that way. So um, yeah, I don't think we will be giving Dish our NEW credit card #. Muahahaha to those idiots. We'll pay them what we owe them (by check) but I think we will drop them this month and hell if I am giving them my credit card # again. Just chalk it up to one more reason why I am not a Dish fan. The timing is rather sweet in that regard.

For us, this is the first time our main every day credit card has ever been breached. For that, you could call us lucky. But for me it's the 3rd time in the last year I have suffered some form of credit card fraud. I don't think I could be more careful with my info so it is REALLY frustrating. All the carefulness in the world does nothing when the keepers of your info are so NOT careful. BAH to them.

I do know the point when I jinxed myself. I was trying to talk Ms. PReschool into online bill pay and she was wary of online stuff like that. I told her I had only had my one major identity fraud BUT that had nothing to do with anything online. Nowhere online do I have stored my name, address, maiden name, birth date, and SS#. My suspicion all along has either been financial institution or government agency (IRS?) security breach. But yeah, if you breached my bank account online you couldn't find my birth date or SS#.

Anyway, so I told her I had NEVER had issues with online bill pay or online credit card purchases, and I think within the week I had that last credit card breach.

Color me jinxed...

I find it suspicious I did just do a lot of online purchases. Then again, it just may have nothing to do with it. Who knows...

Will never know because the credit card companies could care less about tracking down these criminals. Just a cost of doing business. Like this piddly $20 in charges means a hoot to them? Not. THey seem pretty unconcerned when strangers opened cards and ran up $5k bills ($5k per creditor) in my name. Just as piddly in their eyes.

Unpleasantries

September 2nd, 2008 at 06:39 pm

I could deal with ebay, and probably still can, since they are a large marketplace. BUT I am none too happy with our experience all the same.

2 non-payers in 2 weeks (maybe selling 5 things a week, in a recent pace = mostly video games and accessories).

The first was kind of a long story, but the second person just fell off the face of the earth. What is our recourse? Sit and wait. We can close it amicably and go resell since he hasn't gotten back. But SCREW that. This person needs a mark against their account. To do so means give it time. In the end he can pay and I don't know if it will even matter. I don't understand what recourse sellers really have. I guess we need to educate ourselves more since this is becoming all too common. (20% of sales, for this month?).

Anyway, today someone retracted a bid. It wasn't a huge deal. The whole thing was rather fishy to me though since we had never seen the bid show up in the first place. Maybe it was immediately retracted. Said it was placed the 29th and removed the 31st, according to a notice.

Anyway, doesn't seem to have affected anything, since we never saw this high bid (they did not show up as highest bidder last we looked). BUT the person had to nerve to say they retracted our bid because we changed our listing.

It just peeved us. & there just doesn't seem to be a lot of recourse - though we did file a complaint. Wish the idiot just said he typed it in wrong. He clearly just wanted to retract his bid. We don't make it a habit to change our listings, and overall thought that was pretty impossible anyway, once you had bids.

So mostly, had to gripe.

Still good money and dh has time to deal with all the annoyances. Like I said, I mostly think we need to educate ourselves more. But I am really *getting* all the ebay complaints now. We aren't exactly high volume sellers. I think I Would go crazy if we were...

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Well, I am making the first step into the waters of credit card deep freeze.

I am still not sure about dh's credit.

Mine NEEDS to be frozen. I am peeved at what little regard creditors have for fraud alerts on credit reports. Mine have been respected (as far as I know) but I have heard a few too many stories. & from my ID theft experience, it is clear that the creditors could care less.

I mean, I Seriously got an advertisement in the mail from Zales about how I am one of their best customers. Bite me! I was never your friggin customer. Since the thieves opened 7 different retail cards I get all sorts of crap like this. Just an example of how much I hate all those creditors' guts. They think now is a good time to reel in the real me - look at my credit score - they WANT me! IT's plain as day what little regard they have for ID theft victims. I am now just a business opportunity.

I have the recourse to freeze my credit free of charge, so this is the route I have finally chosen to do.

I was kind of waiting for my free credit monitoring to kick in (lawsuit settlement against one of the bureaus?) but it is taking so freaking long and the credit monitoring I have paid to deal with this the last year just went up from $12.95 to $14.95/month.

It was pretty impossible to combat the ID thieves without monitoring. A free report every year does NOT cut it. Each bureau reports different items.

But I think now that things have settled down, I have enjoyed the security.

So this did it. I saw the increased charge over the weekend and I called to cancel. Boy were they annoying. Their last ditch plea was to charge me 1/2 price for 3 months. Whatevah.

But I already paid for September so it gives me a month to just freeze my credit. I will give it a whirl.

I am kind of tempted to leave dh's credit opened so at least one of us has some open credit. But I am also extra petrified of his identity getting stolen, and worse, someone getting a mortgage in our name or something (since we do have equity - it is the up and coming crime against those with equity and high credit scores - 2 strikes against us). I can't think, "IT will never happen to us." Instead I probably think too much, "It will happen to us." Since it already has.

So it will cost $30 to freeze his credit, and a fee to unfreeze it for anything. But for the long run, it's cheaper and more proactive anyway. Technically no one can issue credit whereas with the monitoring you are just informed after someone stole and used your data.

From a credit standpoint it is no biggie. No plans to borrow money. If so it would be something we would have plenty of time to unfreeze. I am more worried from an insurance and job search standpoint. Everything from this point will be a PITA. Dh had his credit checked for our satellite switch and mine was just checked over the weekend with our new phone setup. So you realize how often this stuff comes up, regardless if you use debt.

But will be worth it for peace of mind. I think. We'll give it a whirl.

Anyway, between that and our new cell phone arrangement, will save $45/month. That is good...

Anyway, not much else going on. Just crappy stuff like this...

Balance Transfers/ID Theft

November 18th, 2007 at 03:58 pm

Well, I got it in writing that all those cards were fraudulent, except one. Still waiting on Macy's. I will call them, but I figure the second I call them is the second it shows up in the mail. So I am biding my time before I make the effort.

So pretty much all cleared. My credit report seems cleared up enough so I figure I would ask for a credit increase on my balance transfer card. I have around $5k borrowed and dh has $10k. But his will have to be paid off in a few months, and we get 5.7% until end of 2008. Definitely taking advantage. So I would like to borrow $10k when we pay off his. Or heck, might as well get it now... Before interest rates decrease more. I guess I could earn 4.5% in the interim, and then once dh's is paid I would figure I would be earning 5.7%.

Anyway I haven't borrowed on one card and I should also take advantage before they retract it, but they only have me $5k limit - "until I was a customer for 6 months." Blech. I was filing paperwork yesterday and saw they sent me that note 6 months ago.

So I popped online and applied for a credit increase. They asked me a gazillion questions - hard credit pull - small price to pay to make another $50/month without lifting another finger after applying.

So the card company called about 1/2 hour later. They are obnoxious and call all the time about buying their payment protection plans and all that and usually dh tells them to buzz off. BUT ever since my ID theft I have to take the calls, in case it is important. IT never is.

I grumbled as dh handed me the phone. Getting ready to say if they called me on more flipping time I am closing my card or something.

But alas, they were calling because they pulled my credit report and saw the fraud alert. Just checking to see if it was indeed me. I thanked them profusely. Yes, Citi paid attention. Glad to know.

Also when I applied online they said 7-10 days, but the guy was like, um yeah, you'll be approved within the hour... So yay credit report.

I should log online and check. Might as well do that balance transfer. Make sure the terms haven't changed.

I also shared all this to say I was really happy with the balance transfer process.

I was worried about universal default with the ID theft and was going to talk to WAMU about it, but then WAMU sent notice they are no longer doing universal default. Phew. It's been the only real hiccup. I worried how my bad credit report in the interim could affect well standing accounts. But I Was able to clean it up quickly enough.

But overall I have been really happy. I haven't even set up to pay everything automatically. I just pay the minimum balance the day I get the bill. I keep so on top of my bills it seems to work.

If I could do over again I would have made better notes when I took the BTs and when they were due. I know dh's is 9 months and I can see in Quicken when I got the check, but I didn't write all this down. Duh. As time passes, I am thinking, when is this one due? I went back and documented best I could in Quicken. As the time gets closer I need to pay more attention. I figure I will pay it a month or 2 early to avoid issue. I have no idea how the credit card company measures 9 months, and I am sure it is in their favor. Wink So um yeah. I will be paying off dh's in February or so, and mine in June (Expires in July?). & I believe this new one is for a year but I will have to go refresh my memory. If it is for a year and I do it now, I can take full advantage of my 5.7% CD.

If I paid all these back it would leave me with about $11k in a CD and $1k in cash. My emergency fund anyway - we have some other cash... So I would like to string these out until my CD expires.

Once my CD expires and we pay all these back. That's it. Closing all the cards. Checking our credit. Laying low for a while... If when all was said and done and our credit scores weren't affected, I would do it again. But I am not going to have 10 open cards. I always close my unused cards. I just find it easier that way. My credit score is better for it I find.

I expect a bit of a blip on the score with all this borrowed money. PArticularly when I borrow $15k in my name through next summer. I don't mind taking the hit temporarily. But I would take the time to clean it up before I considered doing another balance transfer. I care less about it in the short term. But I care enough about it in the long run to not just do BT after BT after BT.

I think if dh and I both just borrowed $10k it was a good plan. Vs. one of us borrowing a large sum. So far neither of our scores have taken a hit. Maybe a hit, but they are still well over 750 so who cares. But I can't say borrowing another $10k will help my score any. But the cash has been really helpful in building back up our efund, and we'll take advantage for one more year.

I would be happy enough with the balance transfer process without the CD. But I always knew there was a risk interest rates would go down. BUT I just happened to have this 5.7% CD offer from my credit union right after I did my first balance transfer. Talk about luck. I can renew it at 5.7% for another 8 months comes March or so. Until my last BT expires. Just "perfect."

So yeah, my strategy until then is just save more cash. Then I will have to come up with a new plan for the efund. I am certainly not going to tie most of it up in a 8-month CD again. Was strictly for the balance transfers. Will have to evaluate some CD laddering options and such going forward. Who knows how things will be in a year.





Good News All Around

October 28th, 2007 at 12:54 am

Well this is a dumb story:

http://www.sacbee.com/103/story/454330.html

"Once Housing Turns, Recovery could be Fast."

Oh I am only too aware of this. I have mentioned many times here, we put up our condo like the day before 9/11 and ended up in 2-house hell for quite a few months. But our refi of the condo (to pull out the down payment for our home) happened to end right before the first weekend of recovery. After months of low asking prices and nothing, we raised the price a bit and sold in a day with competing offers. We had to take it off the market 3 months for the refi and the timing couldn't have been better when we put it back up. Oh yeah, that's the real estate market I know. So um yeah, in California, when things turn, they turn fast. You could get left in the dust.

Also, large returns here have been sustained for many decades. So all very viable. Not sure it is the end of the line for California...

BUT this article is insane. It's kind of like, "get ready, because things are going to go back to the bubble any day now. Yippee!"

I say, eh, give it a good 5 years at the least. Yeesh! Just seems to be jumping the gun a bit. I didn't read the 60 comments yet on the article but will probably be good reading. Will probably add my own too.

I am at a loss what all the freakout is really. I am trying to think - we have been here a good 6 years. Our house would sell EASY for a good 50% more than we paid. That is still a good solid 7% return per year. If you bought earlier you'd have a good solid 10% per year return. So basically only people who bought in the last couple of years are screwed. ???? & the economy is crumbling? Oh yeah, all the ARMs and borrowed equity. Like you couldn't see that would end ugly. Just plain, bad short-term thinking. I kind of wish we lived in a bubble so when the house of cards came tumbling we wouldn't be affected, but I always knew that would be a pipe dream. Well I did talk a few people out of ARMs (& yes they are very thankful today). I did what I could...

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In other news, just wanted to say, I got contact on 6 of the 7 cards (ID Theft) that everything is resolved. Got it all in writing. I'll give the last card another week and then call and see what is going on. Luckily that card is only $900 or so. The smallest of the bunch. Maybe why they are dragging their feet a bit. I actually got 5 of them this last week, and one before my trip. One more to go.

I have to say that it wasn't so bad to clean it up. IT would be even better to see justice served one of these days, but won't hold my breath. Well, it has been exactly 3 months. I will probably wait until January and then double check all my credit reports. They said give it 6 weeks. My FICO is in the 770 range as of today. (Balance transfers and all. sick of hearing how that will ruin your credit score. You just have to know how to play the game!!)

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P.S. I have seen this blog before (Very interesting). This last week he posted that 1/3 of the homes currently for sale in this area are foreclosures and short sales. Eeks! The newspaper is a mess of these statistics, as well as "things will be better tomorrow" articles. Guess it's covering all bases. Wink

http://sacrealstats.blogspot.com/

ID Theft Update

September 22nd, 2007 at 01:35 am

I got my second clearance from the mail - Macy's. 2 down and 5 to go. (Really like 2 more to go since Sears cleared me which was under Citibank with 3 other cards. Lord knows what is taking the other 3 so long. But if Citi admits that card is fradulent, then the rest should follow).

VEry slow going. It's been about 60 days.

I also got my true FICO score update and it is up to 757 from 685 last month. MUCH better. Most of the false stuff has been removed from my credit report (though 1 is now showing up on Experian). I am just waiting to get confirmation that I am released from all responsibility and then will have to pull my reports again and, hopefully 1 final time, ask to remove all the false stuff.

That credit score is with my balance transfer. I imagine it will shoot back to the 800s once I pay it off. In the meantime I said a million times I am not worried about the BTs when it comes to my credit score. It's nice to see my feelings about it were spot on. I figured even if it dropped low it would be quite temporary. But it looks like overall it has affected my score little.

Well hopefully in the next month I can close this chapter in my life. No more "ID Theft" updates would be nice. Big Grin

1 Credit Card Resolved & Other Financial Ramblings

September 5th, 2007 at 02:47 pm

& 6 to go?

I got mail from Macy's and they said give me 60 days for them to "investigate." Blech. I think they told me that 60 days ago...

But then I got a letter from Sears. ID Theft resolved. Card closed for good. Off my report. Out of my name. Woohoo.

Sears is under Citi along with 3 other cards so I hope that means all of those are pretty much taken care of.

Of the other 3, at least none of them were bigger balances. Well Lowes was big but I haven't heard anything from them in ages. I'll have to check the paperwork, I get the feeling maybe that one was squared away too. I don't really care if they rid me of responsibility from the card with $0 balance (mush as it shouldn't be any sweat off their back to just let it go) so I am least worried about that one. Mostly leaves Macy's which was the smallest balance at $900 or so...

Oh yeah I got a Macy's statement as well (in the meantime while they take 60 days to figure out it obviously wasn't me). But with this one they were nice enough to not have a minimum payment (like Zales). No payments for a while I guess? What is more disturbing - that you could get $25k credit so easy, or that you can get $25k credit so easy and you don't pay any payments for x months? Yeesh. I think since it is California and I filed a police report that the Credit Bureaus would block the info from my report even if the credit company recorded non-payments in the interim. So that is nice. The credit bureaus seemed to block this info easily enough without the "investigations being complete." But for the most part it looks like it will all be cleared up before any payments would be due (knock on wood).

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In other news yesterday I read something like 85% people pay more payroll taxes than income taxes. WOW! I actually looked at the site referenced and only found a 45% figure (which is still big). The Tax Policy Institute or something. I thin with the 85% figure they were trying to say that workers really shoulder the employer portion of social security by taking lesser wages so their employers could pay it. There is probably much truth to that. Must be the way accountants think since I think that about everything. You take from here it has to come from somewhere...

We are most certainly in this percentage though - our social security taxes are double our income taxes. & I am sure there are many in that situation. I think sometimes when people complain about the taxes coming from their checks they don't realize exactly what is coming out of their checks.

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I almost fell over listening to Dave Ramsey yesterday. For one he was annoying me because he was going on and on how only idiots even mention pets in their wills (well it was an older podcast). I was thinking about scfr's post about making arrangements for your pets - just make sure they are cared for, etc. I don't think it is an idiotic thing at all. Not everyone who thinks of their pets leaves billions to their pets (well most wouldn't obviously - hehe). Then he was screaming at all us morons for having credit cards for ease of use. I just rolled my eyes. Some lady called all appalled that a financial advisor at her kids' school recommended getting cards and paying them every month to build credit. Of course he freaked out. But he doesn't get that people need a credit score. I know those people who never had a card in their life and couldn't buy a house. Couldn't finance a car when things went bad. It really doesn't help average joe blow to be so adverse to the idea of a card. Sure why not pay inflated insurance premiums just because you have no credit. (Doesn't sound very smart). Then again maybe we should be fighting the system. Anyone who can get through life with no credit, well they can't be doing that bad, can they? I guess it could be an indicator of both extremes. But it seems like it could be relatively easy enough to be audited or something as an alternative to prove credit-worthiness. If you feel that strongly about the credit industry, I agree there probably should be some other alternatives to major credit risk. It's a mess. This 3 Credit Bureau is just driving me insane with this ID theft thing. Why the hell are there 3 Bureaus?????? Makes life 3 times harder for me. So to an extent I am for fighting the system. But in the meantime I don't find it that hard to just play along.

Anyway, I went on a tangent. I almost fell over when Dave said that the value of your cars should be no more than 50% of you annual gross income. I almost choked. Thought I heard wrong. So I looked it up. & yes that is what he recommends. Of course since he recommends paying cash I guess mostly we are on the same page. But 50% just seems awfully generous. (We've spent most of our lives well under 10%. & with 2 "new" cars today we are squarely at 25% and looking at no new cars for like a decade - so it will shrink back to our 10%
average soon enough).

I thought wow this is generous coming from Dave. I wonder what most financial gurus recommend. Just out of curiosity. So I looked and I saw the recommendation that car payments should be no more than 15% - 20% of your take-home pay, on a monthly basis. For one, what financial guru bases car affordibility based on payments? Blech. But 20%. Are they serious???????? I assure you this included no expenses but the car payments. I reread the articles looking for clues - they must be talking insurance, license and all. But no, this was just payments.

So that puts us at $750-$1k monthly car payment we could afford? Are they insane? No way. We maybe put away $400/month on average towards our next car purchases (2). & I have to say we have never had this kind of money for a car before. This is like as good as it gets for us. I could never see spending more. When we made six figures we bought an $8 car. We just don't get the whole car thing. It's a VERY nice car by the way. Small, but nice.

But it's ironic. I have been wanting to buy a $5k 3rd car. We couldn't justify keeping our convertible when we had our first child (insurance and all) but I feel we are getting much closer to buying another very nice, used convertible. By Dave's standards I could afford a $18k car I guess. I mean, heck, I do have the cash. Wink

It's funny because we were watching a show the other day where a husband gave a really nice convertible to his wife on her 40th birthday. I was telling dh, hint hint hint. What a nice birthday present. I said how about at 35? LOL.

Nah, I am going to wait until I can pay cash for a nice $5k car. & fully fund our retirement. Maybe in 5 years. PErhaps. It's harder right now with dh's car being so reliable and worthless at the same time. No collission insurance. I can't really justify spending the cash for a car if his car could be totaled tomorrow and we could need it for that. Then again I would have a car for him to drive. HE would just hate it and we would prefer it be a car that the kids don't ride in for now. So it will be a few years...

But yeah, I realize these are maximums. But they just seem insane to me. Of course the sad thing is that most people I know would find these "rules" rather restrictive. I guess it's some middle ground to give a wake up call to people really buying more than they can afford, but throwing a bone to those who want new cars every few years. We could buy some 2 really nice cars on credit with $1k monthly payments. For sure. I am so glad we put all that money to our house instead though. Phew.






Fako score - 780

August 29th, 2007 at 04:14 pm

Experian just sent me a notice that they blocked all my info.

I thought my free trial had expired (which is stupid because basically you can't get anything free for the free trial - now I can check my experian report daily if I like - and check my fako score (is not a true FICO score). But the past score was in line with my true FICO score so overall I think it is reasonable. I've seen some weird fakos in the past (like that go up to 900??? Not in line with fICO of course).

So I checked and indeed my free trial was up. I thought they would have e-mailed me - what a bunch of annoying bastards (sorry). For one it is not free because they won't let you check your score again until after the free period. Then they don't even e-mail you to tell you your free period is up. I Was starting to get aggravated since I figured it was up today or tomorrow and had checked the website yesterday with no luck.

But today, yes, "free" credit report and fako score. I should be able to check tomorrow too if I like.

My FAKO score a few days after the ID theft was around 725 (hit anyway with my balance transfer) but today is a pretty 780. So woohoo.

The true test will be what TransUnion reports my FICO score to be through WAMU. Signing up for that card was SO worth it for the monthly FICO updates. Heck, I would recommend opening an account at WAMU just for that. (The 0% balance transfer doesn't hurt either).

But balance transfer and all my score seems to be back to normal. I am sure it will get back to 800 when we pay off these balance transfers.

Oh but this was the beautiful part of my fako score:

" Listed below are the top factors that lowered your score. They are listed in order of importance.

Credit scores are calculated based on various factors in your credit report. Currently, your credit report does not show any significant negative or derogatory information. You can be proud of the fact that you are building a good credit history, so continue with your positive credit behavior!"

Eat that.

Big Grin

Oh it's nice to get things cleared up and back to "normal."

I really believe having an excellent score to start means that this whole thing was barely a blip on the radar. (& not having lots of debt either as I could have been slammed by universal default and stuff like that).

I am just not sure if this is over yet. My info is still out there. We'll see...

& when you have a good score, close your oldest accounts, take balance transfers, blahdeblah, who cares. So my score was in the 750 range for a few weeks. It is back to normal and I still have most of the entire balance transfer outstanding. It's just dropped down enough with the $200 or so paid off that it is no longer affecting FICO negatively. With the regular payments it will only help my score. I really do think people with good scores try to overthink FICO. Pay your bills on time, don't take on more debt than you can handle, and the little stuff will not kill your score. Believe me I have done EVERYTHING wrong when it comes to FICO this last year - but I don't really care. Even the ID theft didn't slay me. IT was 685 which made me nervous, but wasn't bad all the same.

Well, I hope FICO agrees - I'll found out in a few weeks with my next WAMU statement.


Tuesday Tidbits

August 28th, 2007 at 10:27 pm

*Got signed up for balanced billing - both electric and gas. Gas told me they were going to bill me $30/month. I think our electric average is around $40/month. They didn't tell me the amount up front. But we'll see. I'll miss the $10 bills, but oh well, makes budgeting easier. (& I guess that I won't miss the $100 bills!!!!!!)

*Still hadn't gotten the paperwork to switch to metered water, but I guess they called dh today to say it is still in the works. August is a bad month, but metered water in September would be nice (will save $10-$15). Maybe October - as long as we get it by the really cheap winter months. Big Grin

*Experian sent me a note that they deleted a bunch of crap from my credit report and will permanently block all of it. Woohoo. We'll see what Equifax says. Transunion was called by Citi (with me on the line) but they were the ones that had that horrid FICO score. If it doesn't bounce back up by next month I will write in for the "permanent block." Maybe should do regardless, since I swear they said they "removed stuff" (got that in writing) but nothing about a "permanent block." Maybe that has to be requested (certain states like California allows fraudulent stuff to just be permanently blocked from your report if you ask). I am also terribly confused by what the credit Bureaus do and do not share. They seem to share all the info with each other, but then others say they don't. From my experience they seem to be sharing all the info - if anything reports on one it reports on the others. I think I even read if you requested a block with one it will send on the info to the others to block as well. Well, we'll see. see if I get more confirmations or if I will have to pull more reports and send off for more block requests.

All the instructions and forms said you can only block what is showing, but I sent along the police report and they blocked everything that has shown up since I pulled the report - as much keeps trickling onto the report - so woohoo. Score one anyway for a tedious process. For one, Lowes has taken the balance off my report from day 1 but it still shows on my report (with a $0 balance). I assume this means it won't show up at all. Other places are still showing on my credit report with balances while they resolve things though I think most said they wouldn't. (Whatever...). IT should be a good month before I get anywhere near resolving all of this. Waiting for them all to officially "clear me" and take everything off my credit report. I think most quoted it as a 30-day process from when I sent in the affidavits (all signed/notarized/sent/received, so just a waiting game here on out.

*We weren't home all weekend, and yesterday was a LONG day (Marine World - went well - kids loved it). Tomorrow I am hosting a playgroup with like 10 moms and 15 kids I don't know. Oy Vey! Don't ask - long story... (Of course funny enough dh asks me what we are doing for dinner - LOL. I said - do you think we can afford to feed all these people? Play date is AFTER dinner of course. He was asking if he should pick up some pizzas...)

*Which reminds me I am SICK of pizza. We did the take/bake cheap yummy pizza thing last Monday for guests, had lots of leftovers (since dh bought 2 - told him we only needed one! Wink ). Pizza Saturday for birthday party and then we went to visit dh's friends Sunday and they pulled out the pizza menu. We just looked at each other. "Sure, sounds great." (If I never see another pizza again). Well, we did get a lot of free pizza - so hey...

*Made a big deposit at the bank. My mom reimbursed me for all the airline tickets (like $3k) and I had kids' birthday money (transferring to Vanguard in the next month). I had been waiting until I needed it and was ready to transfer so it didn't just get spent... I mean I was going to transfer it regardless, but now I can just transfer the actual checks once they deposit. I was starting Automatic Imvestments for the kids in September. & then I had dh's focus group money - deposited the cash like a good girl.

*Dh was inspired by my dad to attempt pest control on his own. Woohoo. We tried in the past and he just wasn't helping me, lord knows I don't have the time. We found a cheap service for a while (who would only come when we needed it - thank you) but they gave up on wasps (too many injured employees and that is our only real problem, though I have seen more spiders than I have cared to this last year inside the house. We are lucky the house is air tight enough few get in though). I haven't balanced my disgust for chemical pest control with my disdain for spiders. It's irrational I know, but I just can't stand the things. Anyway, some guy came around with some insane quotes last week and dh wanted to sign up. I asked him to call around. We need someone to come once or twice at the beginnign of wasp season and that is about it. We don't need to pay $60 each and every month (nor do I want to spray that much as we try to be somewhat environmentally conscious). But after a year if no spraying something needs to give - indeed. So when we were talking to my dad over the weekend about frugalness or something dh got inspired to give it a whirl himself. We'll see. I just don't want him to get stung. But yeah my dad has always done the pest spraying for our home growing up. So he had some tips.

Which reminds me our guests from Canada came to the door and said, "You get tarantulas here???" Yeah, just want the arachnophobe wants to hear. They were going on and on about our BUGS which I found rather ironic. I know I wouldn't last a minute in the south myself. Maybe we should move north! IT wasn't a tarantula - just a really big spider. The thought will give me nightmares though. But yeah told them they hasn't seen nothing until they go spend a summer day in North Carloina - hehe.

*We decided my van needs new tires. Still 2 originals (2 blew but ran over bolts both times - not much you can do). I told dh I thought the used ones looked worn but he convinced me they weren't. We're pulling out the penny and I think he was guaging the wrong areas of the tire. So over the weekend his dad mentioned my tires looked pretty worn. (Van has about 45k miles on it and I am sure the 2 are original tires - probably crappy factory ones at that). So I asked my dad to check since he is the car expert. In true frugal fashion he tells me front tires are pretty iffy (should replace) but the back ones have 6 months. If he were me he'd wait 6 months on the back ones. But get the tires that last 60k miles. I am thinking if I am taking my car in and getting tires, and they are going to last 60k miles, might as well get 'er done. But that's my dad. We usually just have our mechanic guy do it (he advises us but we haven't taken the cars in much since we have 2 newer cars). So I asked my dad where he recommended and he recommended someone down the street from them in San Jose. He said he would call and get me a quote. Sounds good - next time we drive down - my dad will help me get a deal.

That being said I don't think our mechanic charged particularly much for the 2 or 3 times he replaced all my tires (I have gone through a lot of cars lately) so I will probably call him for a quote too. If they are that "iffy" on the front rather just get them done - can take them in tomorrow if I wanted.

Not a biggie, but then dh tells me he doesn't think his tires have ever been changed. I vaguely remember they have been but I couldn't remember when. The car has well over 70k miles. I figure he is insane. I haven't pulled out the paperwork yet (hardly been home) but at lunch I remembered to look at his tires. Clearly new. Probably replaced in the last year or 2, but the car is never driven. I was pleased to glance at his tired and see they obviously don't need replaced too - phew. I mean if they did - what are you going to do - we'll replace them - we have the cash. Safety first. But he was freaking me out. I'll pull out the paperwork and see when we got those tires...

Always something...

*Yesterday we spent $110 at Marine World (Discovery Kingdom or whatever - just changed the name). I was wrong. Our tickets were $30/each. & parking was $15. (Are they serious?) Of course if you looked at the prices the day without discount would have cost us something like $200 (tickets only - not even parking). Who pays that????????? Everyone we saw had a coupon of course. But they day was PERFECT - just dead as could be - not a lot of people. We did good! Kids had a blast. Spent $35 on food for the grand total of $110. Of course we were lazy and tired and had a $5 Taco Bell meal on the way home and stopped by Rite Aid for some 99-cent ice cream so made it a $118 day I guess.

I also made the observation that the more fit people had the fancier strollers yesterday - for the toddlers and preschoolers. IT strikes me as odd. I guess BM has never been a stroller fan (too much energy) and in the last few months LM has pretty much been done with his (pretty much after he had been walking just a few months). When we took them to SF zoo a few months back I was amazed how well LM but at the end of the night we had to carry him out and about killed us (he is a good 30 pounds). But yesterday we brought the stroller "in case" but left it in the car. Didn't need it in the least. Since we are more in shape carrying him at the end of the day exhaustion point was just a piece of cake. & I am just happy one less thing we have to pack next time. I have read that people are keeping their kids in strollers way too long (part of the whole obesity thing) and yesterday I really noticed it. I just think it was extremely ironic that the most fit people had the biggest strollers - LOL. Dh said it was a status symbol thing. I don't know - maybe. As for us, every time we have to pack (or more importantly, every time I have to REMEMBER ) one less thing, we do the happy dance of joy. I think we are about done with strollers... I say woohoo!

*THough I have been a little stressed lately about money (when am I not?) I am feeling rather at one with the financial universe all the same. Life is good. I left work early last week to hang out with BM at preschool "because he wanted me to." Sure, what the heck. Took yesterday off. Going to Japan in a few weeks. Dh and the kids are going to Florida as well in OCtober. Our savings is going in a positive direction for the first time since kids and one-income and all that. Life is good. What is there really to complain about. I already blogged that while everyone is "Going Back to School" we are enjoying the kids. Maybe it is because the kids are at a good age too. Moving past diapers and bottles (& strollers) and sleepless nights, it's kind of an enjoyable time. Easier to slow down and enjoy their innocence a little bit more without the complete exhaustion that comes with babies and newborns.

I've even been feeling less like working part-time is really going to be my goal. I want more time with the kids now - like it matters when they are in school all day anyway. Which means I might make an effort to work less the next year or 2 and then ramp it up when the kids are in school and give up on the whole part-time thing. Maybe... I mean if dh returns to work it will be an entirely different beast. But if he is not working, kids in school, my work schedule isn't so bad. I can compile my vacation and take a month off every summer and be home with the kids then if I like. I could come home every afternoon and work while they do homework. At least we can all be home together though - though we will all have our own work to do. It's an idea. I think I would probably be better off doing that and going for more unpaid time than the goal of part-time. I would just lose way too much. If I can vie for more unpaid time insetad, I wouldn't lose all my benefits and perks. Frankly, I don't really mind working full-time. I have had a time of it since LM was born. I think I have felt like I have been missing a lot more with the kids. But with LM sleeping better and getting to the gym and all that I have just been feeling so much better. Work has been going so much better. A good night sleep does make all the difference - it really does. I think with sleep and getting more fit and a clearer brain I am focusing more on how good we have it lately and so feel little need to complain and am rather happy where things are. I have just been on a bitch fest when it has come to work these last few months and I think just the stress and exhaustion. But things are going a lot better. Work is still crazy, but handling it better.

Too optimisitc I guess

August 20th, 2007 at 01:59 pm

I just got am e-mail from WAMU that my credit score has dropped to 670. !!!

I am frustrated as I have signed up for the credit monitoring and I am hopeful that it will alert me to new accounts and stuff, but I don't show 5 false accounts showing up like WAMU does. Ugh. Plus I logged in to the credit monitoring today and 2 of the cards are showing up balances and all.

It is just frustrating. It will get cleared up in the long run, but lord knows when.

I am extra frustrated as I actually expected it to be up because 2 of the Credit Bureaus wrote me to say they had removed all the false inquiries, and I asked the third too (they were probably already in the process). They had also blocked the false accounts that were showing (I have to wait until the others show to block them though?).

& yet WAMU says it is reporting 5 credit cards I do not own and 7 inquiries (most not mine).

It's just FRUSTRATING. What else can I do?

I am still concerned about my Balance Transfer 0% rate. I was reading up and don't see anything that you credit score has anything to do with universal default. But lord knows why these are showing up on my credit report and what is to stop them to report them as unpaid or late, etc. until this is resolved? Well great, you won't do that but you will obliterate my credit score anyway.

I am also peeved with "Citi ID Theft Solutions." They are idiots all around. Not very helpful. The reason they need a whole ID theft department is because they perpetuate the fraud by letting people borrow $5k-$8k in other states and pay little attention to fishy activity. Under the non-city cards (2 of them) only $1 was stolen. All the theft happened with Citi for the most part. & they are idiots. (I just found out they had not closed 1 card they told me was taken care of). !!!! Luckily this is not the one obliterating my score as it was a small balance... But I had to call and sit on hold again with them another hour. They had told me oh I don't have to worry about it - they'll take care of it...

I am just peeved all around. If it's all taken care of, why is my score down over 100 points? Hardly taken care of...

I will probably pull all my credit reports in 2 weeks and send complaints off to the Bureaus again. Fun fun.

Citi Fraud Dept.

August 6th, 2007 at 04:59 pm

I just started calling on the 2 newest cards and for whatever reason they transferred me over to Citi ID Fraud Dept. (some investigative arm of Citi) and most of the Fraud happened on cards they issue I guess. One other place asked if I would be willing to talk to them (might have been on the weekend) but otherwise no word from them though I rpeorted 4 fradulent accounts like 7 days ago.

I was a little annoyed because they wanted to take 1/2 hour of time to look at my credit reports and issued fraud alerts. Um, done done done. However, she sweet talked me into it - TransUnion was the report they would check - the one I have been unable to access and am waiting for it to come in 7-10 days by mail (ridiculous).

So she pulls it up and thank goodness NOTHING new on there. Anything else issued was issued without a credit check. Hopefully nothing else.

She then called TrnasUnion and they placed the 7-year fraud alert on my account. Issued me a pin #, blahblahblah. Saves me time and ceritified letters. While on the phone TransUnion removed the false inquiries (sweet!). They will forward data for the other 2 bureaus to do the same. Nothing else is showing up on my report anyway but not the credit bureaus are notified what all the fraud was and to keep it off my report (saving me more time and postage, etc.).

Then she said she would gather all the data from all the theft related to Citi (most of it) and FedEx me the one form to notarize. (Just making it easier on me). They even took care of 1 card that I hadn't called yet (since it was under Citi). I was going to call them next.

I am annoyed because if I talked to them 1st it would have saved me SO MUCH time and effort. But glad they are simplifying things. Sounds like way less forms to fill out. & this whole FedEx thing is nice. I thought waiting 7-10 days was just ridiculous really. No sense of urgency.

I really don't have a sense of what else they will be doing, but I am pleased with them today.

I have decided maybe I will forego the credit freeze and just see how things go. If anything slips through I will do the freeze. But a lot of effort and expense, so hopefully the fraud alert will take care of it. Time will tell. *sigh*

I guess if nothing else I feel better today because I think most of it is taken care of. It still scares the crap out of me though that people can be applying for cell phones, utiltiies, and jobs in my name and my never know... Until the collection agencies start to call. But we're getting somewhere I guess. I don't think any of this will affect my credit score - phew.

ETA: With 7 cards now - to keep everything straight is insane. I just had a pile of papers. Today I started a 3-ring binder with labels for local police, FTC, each of the 3 credit Bureaus, and each fraudulent account. I think this will go a long ways to keeping everything organized and straight. Then it will be easy to pull any copies I need of anything... Sometimes being organized just takes a simple solution.

2 more cards...

August 4th, 2007 at 07:30 pm

$21,000... 7 cards...

New running balance. Got 2 more cards in the mail today (plus some I was expecting). One was a jewelry store. Surprise surprise.

Fraud departments closed AND no live people to speak to either card. So at least it was fast and easy to close the cards (automated). But I will have to call back Monday to get this taken care of.

I think this is going to be way more massive than I first suspected. Frown

On the bright side, all this places are on EST time and I usually awaken from 5-6. At least I don't have to spend my days at work straightening this crap out. A plus to being on the west coast. However, significantly cuts into some of my only free time and writing time.

I am just scared to know what else is out there. I got something in the mail from a bank and was like, oh lord! But it was the bank who issues Lowes cards - a form about the fraud investigation - phew...

All I can say is thank goodness this did not happen during tax season. I would probably just flip out from the stress.

It's almost a bane and a curse that they are using my address, since all of this is caught before it hits my credit it isn't a bump on my credit BUT it makes it that much more easy for them to get credit. I REALLY hope the fraud alert and/or credit freeze helps... I have to assume these were open before I found out about this whole mess...

-----------------------------------

On the plus side I have more energy today than I have had for MONTHS!!!!! I am REALLY feeling good about this whole gym thing. It is helping my mood and stress tremendously. I am just surprised how fast, but I have been going to aerobics for a while though, so I guess I just had to kick it up a notch. Big Grin

$7500

August 3rd, 2007 at 02:28 am

Another card just popped up today - $7500.

I guess if you have good credit you can walk into a store, open a credit card, and walk off with $7500 of merchandise.

This one was opened last Monday it looks like.

Lord knows what else is out there.

But they were kind enough to use my address AND to enroll me in "Balance Protector" Program. So they sent me some literature about it today - and of course I knew.

TransUnion still won't tell me anything about my credit report. I'll get it in a week or something. WHat in holy hell? Hopefully by the time I will get it, no surprises.

If you EVER get your credit stolen make sure to get your credit report from Transunion FIRST, even if you have to pay for it, before you put a fraud alert. It is frustrating how each report had different inquiries and maybe I could have caught this one Saturday. (An even worse thought is maybe they made no credit inquiry - but obviously they did for $7500... Right?)

Good thing I like filling out forms. Brings my list to 5. 5 cards. 5 affidavits. I can't even imagine how much credit they could have gotten if I hadn't caught so soon. So far is around $15k in the course of 5 days and my credit score still reads "Excellent." Of course I know there is no guarantee that they won't be able to open more with the fraud alerts. That is the worst part...

Kind of the bane and curse of good credit. The million inquiries and even some hefty balances is affecting it little, but lord if I had a lower score maybe they wouldn't get so much credit so easy? who knows...

Frown

Update

July 31st, 2007 at 02:18 pm

Oh there is so much to update.

I had a meeting with my coworkers yesterday and encouraged them all to check their scores and even consider freezing their credit. CPAs have good credit scores and don't use their credit much (at least the people in my office) so I wanted to let them know they could freeze it. I have to say if it had happened to someone else I would not have been so game to pay $30 every time I may want to unfreeze my credit in the future ($10/bureau). BUT having been here, it is probably a small price to pay. IT also probably warrants a lot of letter writing to congress. Why consumers have to pay to protect their identity. It is just a little ridiculous if you ask me...

I called AICPA and they said "no one has reported any ID theft." Yeah right! Not one CPA in all of the US has had their identity stolen in the last 18 months? Whatever. I filled them in and they put a note in my file. If this is a CPA problem though I imagine I will find out eventually just keeping up to date with friends and co-workers. For their sake I hope not. AICPA seemed very unconcerned as far as they were concerned because it had been about 18 months since the security breach, and a year since they informed us. I guess once a year is past you just are s'posed to forget that your data is lost out there somewhere???? I don't follow the logic.

I was kind of surprised how open my boss was to me doing a quick meeting (it is deadline today and VERY busy) but he just was SO concerned. Since I have been a CPA we use pin #s to sign returns and I actually suggested everyone in the office get a pin # when I joined this firm in 2001. Anyway, he mentioned yesterday that his social security # was all over tarnation from the millions of tax returns that he had signed over the last 30 years or so. I mean all you need is one idiot client to toss their tax return in the trash, and there you go. HEck, a photocopy place called my office one day when I was the only one there and so I was answering phones and they said they had a client's tax return. They had forgotten it. I called the client immediately and we all talked about at work how they were lucky an honest employee found it. But to think our own info used to be at risk when clients did stupid things - *shudders*

& I think it was interesting to point out that I am pretty guarded with my info but it still got out somehow. I just wanted to make sure everyone was checking their reports and that they should do the fraud alert (it is very easy to do) in the case it does stem from AICPA.

Anyway, my coworker had some interesting insight. Her last boss's identity was stolen and she had 2 interesting tidbits. One - the detectives said usually identity thieves sit on data for a year before they start using it (wait for the smoke to clear in case the theft is caught, etc.). Which is very interesting and why I am more annoyed at AICPA's indifference. IT was interesting to hear that is the actual pattern of ID theft - waiting a year - which makes the AICPA look more like where this could stem from.

Also, in this case they found out right away but the ID thieves tried to change the mailing address 2 weeks after applying for the credit. Because of this they were able to CATCH them. I have been at a loss as to why they would use my home address and wonder if that is something they plan to do. Rather interesting...

Then again I got home last night and guess was in the mail - a new credit card from Lowes. The only good I can see from this is the ID thieves hopefully wanted to run up a bunch of credit and then run. & not cause me any further headache. Well I can hope. Why else would they just have the card sent to me. I would have found out so fast regardless. I hope this means they are done...

I signed up for the monitoring but it takes 7-10 days to start up or something. Then again I probably won't get all the paperwork from all the cards until then anyway. We'll see... All I can do is wait at this point.

Oh we were also talking about in our meeting how the key was they seemed to have my birth date too. I am not sure how easy it or hard it is to find that info once you have the rest of my personal info (probably easy) BUT we did discuss that we should never give our SS# OR our birth date to anyone who really doesn't need it. What I wonder is if I use a birthdate with the same month and year but a different date, does it really matter for most things? I don't know. Just another interesting point as I had input my birthdate on SavingAdvice when I signed up and later changed it to a phony date once the topic came up here that that is TMI. I had never really thought about it before, but I will guard my true birth date like my SS# from now on - for the most part.

& yes my coworker offered to do free notaries for me. My bank would have been $10/document. Not terrible, but not great either. I'll take free. Big Grin The funny thing is she is rather elderly and I have been thinking of becoming a notary anyway to make some side money. My boss would probably pay for the classes and stuff if I offered to help her/take over for her. But yesterday she starts telling me notary horror stories. LOL. All these clients coming in for free notaries (as it is offered as a free service by my boss) and coming in needing 50 at a time, etc. I came home and told dh nevermind. I said who will I get free notary service from if I am "it"??? I'll let someone else take over that whole thing - hehe. Of course hopefully I never need another notary again. Yeesh.

Well in 2 weeks I will probably filling out a lot of paperwork. I am also waiting for my final police report to do my credit freeze. I did hear you should demand to go to the police in person for a report. as for here, they really wanted me to do it online and it is convenient. I could hardly argue. The police shortage out here is insane - like they truly have time for this. You hear it takes 30 minutes to respond to a 911 call and they ignore calls about potential kidnappings. I am just not interested in wasting their time with something that can be done online. What are they really going to do anyway??? Does it matter if I go in person? Is is really going to be hard to dispute that I didn't open a card at Lowes and max it out in Indiana on Monday? I was at work all day!

I also wonder if this mess would be worse or harder to clear up if they had changed my address before I found out. Oy vey.

Well, we'll see..

Oh finally, I had one more clue. My credit report has an "l" in my street name instead of an "i." Apparently the thieves used "l"s. I know a few of my bills come to the address with an incorrect "l" but not very many. I am not sure if it means much though. The problem is "i" gets mistaken for "l" so much. I think it will be interesting to see the original applications and see if we can determine if they used l or i. If it is obvious what they intended to use. It could be a clue. Or it could just mean nothing. When we bought the house they told us the wrong street name because someone misinterpreted the i. ??? I found it interesting though since I read off my address to all the companies but Express read it off to me with the "l" so it got the wheels turning in my head. I will check for one what AICPA has for my address. Hmmmm...



Express credit Card - Give them PROPS!!!!!

July 30th, 2007 at 01:52 pm

I just got off the phone with Express. The reason Express called me was not because they were so on the ball BUT because the ID thieves were really dumb and used my phone #.

Anyway, I just called them and chatted with them and get this. The amount charged up on this card was $0!!!!! They were stupid enough yes to issue the card. BUT you can't really fault them for that. However, the first charges were suspicious and so they DENIED them. They then called me.

Which means there was a $0 balance. OMG you don't know how relieved I am.

They are still sending me paperwork and stuff to investigate, but at least it's not a mark for my score to worry about. I Thanked them very much and told them they did what all the other cards should have done. Lowes was clueless. Macys & Sears said they had tried to call me, but they just let them max out the cards anyway. IT's like what, they were going to start denying charges AFTER the cards were maxed? they didn't notice anything weird until the cards were maxed?

Express checked my credit report twice yesterday that I know of, saw that suspicious activity, and DENIED the charges. just as any of them should have.

I will be sending them a nice letter. I hate the credit industry as a whole, but I feel grateful to them for being on the ball in this case.

-----------------------------------

Expenses I have incurred/will incur:

I will have to pay for a million ceritified mails which is not huge at least.

Looking at all the ID Theft Affidavits I have to file, I need to get them all notarized. I Cringed when I Saw that but my bank may offer free notary service. If not my co-worker will probably help me out for free or discount. I'll ask. She is a notary. who am I kidding - she will do it for free.

I signed up for a free 30-day credit monitoring because it is the only way I can figure to check my report vigilantly at all. IT wil cost me $12.95/month after the first month unless I cancel. I'll probably keep it a month or 2 for peace of mind. (YEah thanks 3 credit bureaus for the ONE free report. Not! I haven't even figured out how to look at Transunion yet and shudder to think there may be more on there. I think I will just pay the $10 to look today for peace of mind).

ETA: I just tried to pull my Transunion report at they won't let me look online since there is fraud alert on my account (nice to see it is working). It is frustrating though that Equifax & Experian let me see my free credit report right away, online, easy peasy. If I can find the time I will call them today and get my free report today. This is ridiculous. I just dread to see if there is more...

Or maybe I should just be happy they are taking more precaution. But mostly it is a PITA. YEah I will find out eventually, but I would like to know NOW what the credit report is showing so I can nip more in the bud I have to.

Irony

July 30th, 2007 at 01:10 pm

Well isn't that special? I was thinking I needed a more interesting idea for a blog, and dh did mention hey I could get a lot of articles out of this. The funny thing is I thought the same thing. Not something I really intended to become an expert on or wanted to experience firsthand.

Anyway, I just had to say that isn't it ironic that my info was stolen and now it feels like I have to give all of my personal info to a zillion organizations. Plus more of my personal info that wasn't even stolen. So far Equifax, Experian, Transunion. FTC, police, 4 department stores I never even shop at, etc., etc., etc. It's a little unnerving. Suddenly you want to protect that info that much more, but everyone needs it to investigate.

Today I am going to call the AICPA which I mentioned. I shot an e-mail to my boss about the situation and my concern that it may stem from the AICPA's security breach. I am going to hold a meeting tomorrow and suggest all the CPAs in the office get their credits frozen. Or at least put fraud alerts in the meantime, just in case. I think most of the crowd is up to it. Like me they don't really use debt and all have spouses to fall back on for credit as well. just good to let them know what their options are anyway. I think also it is a good time to have a talk about how we secure our client's data. I know that we had talked about locking up every item with a SS# due to some new laws or something, but we never did. I think insurance companies are required to, and maybe we're not, but the malpractice insurance company recommended it or something. We talked about the logistics of locking up everything we work on every day (difficult and annoying) and we also discussed blacking out any bank account or credit card #s in our files. I think as we move towards electronic scanning and other precautions that have been put in place that there are no longer any accessible SS#s just for the taking when you walk in. But in the past all the files were just in open file cabinets out in the open. I know in the insurance industry they have to follow strict guidelines - in locked file cabinets or locked rooms, or something along those lines. Then again maybe it is kind of ridiculous to think someone could break into your business but could not figure out how to break into a locked room or file cabinet. Then again I guess, why make it so easy. Lots of people come through the office every day...

Well I am wide awake at 6am. I worked out for a good hour yesterday and overdid it a bit. I am whipped. But I have to say I slept good. I went to bed super late and feel SO Refreshed. I think the workout helped. Taking the day off to recover. I'll probably go to aerobics tomorrow and see how I Feel from there. Anyway, I figured I could call Sears and express today before work since they have east coast hours. Phew. Helps. I still have a deadline looming over me for tomorrow and I only worked 4 hours yesterday. I spent so much time on this crap and worrying about it and such; very hard to concentrate though I have to calculate a bonus for this client before 7/31 and I have to disseminate all his info first, in the middle of fighting crime... After tomorrow I should have more breathing room at least.

I filed reports with the police and the FTC yesterday - which will help me freeze my credit for free.

I also read I should call SSA (after reading I shouldn't) and I should contact all of my banks and credit cards, etc. Are they kidding me? Seriously? I am not sure if there is a point and that could take a million years since I just opened like 3 different mutual funds, 3 new banks, and 3 new credit cards in the last few months. The ID Thieves don't seem to have a clue about that info, BUT I guess they are that much closer to fooling a non-vigilant customer service rep with the info that they do have. I think I will call my bank today - maybe my 2 banks which both have a decent amount of cash - and just call and let them know and see if I am required to fill them in and if there is any added layer of security I can add. I do check my balances on everything every day. I just don't want my credit cards coming back and saying I am responsible if something happens, for not alerting them. Beyond that I am not sure what me calling them would help any. None of my existing accounts have been tampered with (knock on wood). Oh well, the day is young. I will call my bank and chat with them at least...

ETA: Thank you STUPID THIEVES!!! Just talked to Express and they used my real phone #. Is the only way I found out so fast. Though the statements rolling in, in a month, would have been a clue. But I am just grateful I found out so fast. At least I had really stupid thieves in this case...

Universal Default

July 29th, 2007 at 11:03 pm

Oh, I just had a horrible thought in the ID theft saga. I just remembered that if something bad from this hits my credit report, that I could face "universal default" issues with my Balance Transfer. Sure I have a good reason and could probably argue with them and clear it up, etc. But I don't like hassle. So I am considering just paying it off this month. I think I will wait a month and see how things progress, but definitely pay it off before any of the charges come due, if they are not cleared up ASAP. Off the top of my head I don't know how universal default works. But I don't expect anything negative to hit my credit report right away, so I think I have some time to ponder?

Just a thought I had. & makes it clear why this can be so devastating to so many people. Just another angle I hadn't thought of.

It sucks, but I rather play it safe. The good thing is that the bigger amount is in dh's name so that one should be okay. The bad is that I had this offer for like 15 months and I paid a $75 fee. Figures. It was probably going to bring in as much dh's, just over a longer period of time...

We'll see... Once my credit is frozen and if all the charges are removed from my credit report, maybe I will stick with it. But something to think about...

I am sure more un-thought-of consequences will pop up. *sigh*

I was just thinking with all the creditors calling me at work next week - yeah that will be fun. I will tell my boss because I know I received 2 notices from 2 professional associations. One is so old I threw away and the other one I don't remember where I saw it - seems it was rather recent. I will never throw away a "possible ID theft" letter again. I feel like a dolt. Something you keep forever I guess. So I will see if he remembers getting these (must have gotten the same notices) so I can call and see if I am the only one this far - if we can maybe trace this down somewhere. & also let my boss know why I am going to spend a good chunk of the week talking to creditors on the phone and stuff. I am sure there will be some raised eyebrows...

*sigh*

Oh and I found this - it was the AICPA:

http://idtheftsecrets.blogspot.com/2006/06/330000-aicpa-memb...

Of course so did the state CPA education foundation - same kind of thing. Except I am pretty certain they never had my SS#. Actually I think in that case credit cards were stolen but they also did not have mine since the boss pays.

Of course I thought the IRS had also had some issues losing SS#s. So you get back to it could have come from anywhere. But if there is a rash of CPAs who become ID theft victims, then we will know I guess. Now I have to add AICPA on my list of calls to make...

Now ask me why I gave the AICPA my SS#? I don't remember. I am usually pretty guarded with it. BUT I don't know. I will think twice next time.

Other places that come to mind though:

Current employer
Former employers
College (they used to put SS#s on our IDs too)
IRS
State Taxing Authorities
All Banks & Investment Brokerages

I am not sure how they ever track down where your ID gets stolen from?

ID Theft

July 29th, 2007 at 12:07 am

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...