This week was somewhat traumatic. I had my identity stolen. Somehow someone got my SS#, my address, my phone number and my car model among other things. A strange coincidense, that I was home during the day waiting for go on a press check. That quirk of fate gave me the opportunity to be home for a call from Macy’s.
“Did you open a charge card this morning?” asked the lady who I was initially going to say something mean to because I thought this was a telemarketing call.
“someone with a visa card in your name is trying to open one.”
Then she read off the last 4 digits of a Visa card I don’t own.
They say it usually takes 2-3 days before someone notices their identity was stolen.
While I am flattered someone wanted to be me, I'd prefer if it had been someone more ambitious. I was less than impressed they wanted to use my identity to shop rather than get a MBA. Then they hit the giant box stores Bed, Bath, Beyond, and Target. Those are not the stores I want to ruin my credit at. why can't they go to Apple. I wouldn't even know how to ruin my credit at those stores. What did they buy for $1000 at BBB anyway? That’s a lot of loofas, foot baths and cheese graters.
After hanging up with Macy’s I called my bank right away and froze my account. No money transferring, cancel all my cards, I said, and I reported what happened. Then I called the 3 big credit bureaus. Transunion, Equifax and Experian. They froze the credit.
I am so glad I did because guess what the fraudsters did next. They hijacked my home phone. They had it forwarded to another number so they could approve credit cards.
Unbelievably, the worst part was trying to get it changed back. They had used my SS# to change the password and AT&T didn’t believe that the house they had sent the bills to for the past 10+ years actually wanted the phone line back. Nope, they believed whoever had hijacked our line and was telling them that they were the real me. Apparently these large companies can track our buying habits down to what shoe we wear and how long we spend in the frozen food aisle, but they can’t recall that I am not African American – which the person who stole our phone line, clearly was – I’d heard her answer the phone.
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By the way, marketers are good at tracking your purchases. Wal-Mart is about to put little chips into everything you buy so they can track any product you buy. Even after you leave the store, they'll know where it is and when. It makes you never want to buy underwear there, that's for sure.
Of course, now I have no credit cards and it makes me wish I had a secret identity like Spiderman or Zorro. I still need to pay my bills and It'd be nice to have a whole different identity to use right now. I feel imaginary now that I have an alter ego that isn't even me in a costume. I don't even know what the other me looks like. Whether I now like grapefruits, Julia Roberts movies, or porn. (Hopefully this other me is not using credit cards to buy any of these)
But, it's also forcing me spend less money, which has no downside.
I’m just glad I’m not the first person this as happened to or even the 20th. I’m like the 20 millionth. This means the banks know what to do and no one is truly surprised. My bank knew to contact me before it sent replacement credit cards to SW Miami. (*AT&T you're really behind the ball*) I spent two hours at the bank instead of 40 hours in bankruptcy court. I say it wasn’t a matter of If, it was a matter of When.
A few notes of advice: don’t use your SS# or last 4 digits of it for any account passwords – this is how they got the phone.
And don’t use your mother’s maiden name for anything. Luckily, I won't have to lecture my daughter not to do that. It's a perk that comes with your mom never having changed her last name.
Other than that have no idea how they got the info. I always thought I was careful. Just not careful enough somewhere.