How do you know you’re a victim.
Unfortunately, the most common way people find out they are victims of identity theft is when the damage is already done.
One victim tells the account of how she found out her information had been stolen. She writes:
“I had been thinking about buying a cellular phone but someone beat me to the punch. This person set up an account using his name and paid two bills using my Visa/debit card number. I’m not sure how he got the number since there’s only one card. I’ve heard a lot of theories in the last few days.
Nextel allowed this man to set up the account using my card and never verified the information. Had they checked him out, they might have found that the owner of the Visa/debit card was a woman, and not the man starting a cellular phone account. I don’t even have a cell phone! The guy took more than half my paycheck, leaving me home all weekend with very little money. Luckily, rent wasn’t due.”
Yet another victim writes:
“On Xxxx xx,2000 – my birthday – my wallet was taken at the checkout counter at (a grocery store). Security cameras showed the checker taking my wallet, and charging nearly $500 of groceries after I left the store.
Despite my calling the police, no charges were filed against the individual because he not “steal” the wallet from my person.
The wallet -containing my recently renewed Drivers License, MasterCard, ATM Card, parking card, business cards (with cellular and home numbers), and college ID card (with social security number on it) – was never recovered. The head of store security and the police detective told me the that wallet was probably thrown away.”
And a third account of identity theft reads:
“On September 19, I first became aware that my identity had been stolen. I received a bill from (a department store) – for $675.55 of electronic purchases I did not make. I notified (them), and put fraud alerts at the three credit reporting agencies, and ordered copies of my credit reports.
I was dumbfounded by what I discovered: over $7,000 of charges on seven credit cards, with attempts to open 6 more.
Starting on September 9th, most accounts had been opened on the Internet. Despite the fraud alert, accounts are still being opened. An account was opened at (a furniture store) on September 22d.
The suspect presented my driver’s license – and, despite the fraud alert, the miswriting of my social security number, and obvious differences in the signature – was granted instant credit. Subsequently, nearly $3000 in charges were made, in 6 separate instances, over a four-day period.”
By the time these people discovered their identity had been stolen, their credit had already been jeopardized and perhaps even ruined.
They would have to embark on the unfortunate and long journey of proving their innocence.
One thing you can do is to monitor your credit reports faithfully. You should also be aware when bills do not arrive as expected or you receive statements for credit cards that you do not have.
You may be denied credit for a large purchase and not be given an immediate reason why.
This is a HUGE warning sign that your identity may have been compromised – especially if you’ve always had an excellent credit score.
Finally, if you are receiving phone calls or correspondence from credit reporting agencies or collection departments, you need to look at your credit more closely to see if your information has been breached.
These are all warning signs that you should not ignore – under any circumstances!
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- How Lenders Overlook the Warning Signs of ID Theft (bits.blogs.nytimes.com)
- Identity Theft – Do You Know What it Means to Your Financial Security? (lanechase.net)
- Police: Woman with hundreds of IDs said she needed them to ‘buy groceries’ (seattlepi.com)