What to do if you’re a victim of identity theft

Back in September I blogged about a letter we received from Countrywide saying one of their employees sold our personal information, which they inferred, may lead to identity theft. They graciously arranged for credit monitoring for two years. And they let us know that their employee was fired.

Late last week, through the Experian credit monitoring service, I noticed several new credit inquiries—none of which were initiated by me. Yesterday I saw from my credit monitoring account alerts that three new accounts were opened in my name, at JC Penney, Kay Jewelers and Jared The Galleria Of Jewelry.

It just so happened that today I received credit cards from Kay and Jared which were mailed to our old address in Henderson and forwarded by the USPS to our new home in Bountiful.

As much as I’d like to say I purchased jewelry for Vickey for Christmas, such is not the case.

I called the number for Kay Jewelers and told them I had not requested the credit card. Turns out, someone with a Las Vegas delivery address on Friday charged the card to its limit of $5,100 with an online purchase.

Someone who said his name was Jack also called Kay on Friday to ask for an increase in the credit limit, which was declined because they couldn’t ‘verify some information,’ according to the company’s fraud representative I spoke with tonight. (Good thinking!) They told me that on the online credit card application, whoever applied reported:

  • my name
  • my social security number
  • my Nevada driver’s license number
  • an email address that includes my company’s website address (but was an incorrect address)
  • that I was employed through the International Association of Business Communicators in Las Vegas as its treasurer (I was the organization’s volunteer treasurer three years ago and its president this year)
  • that my monthly income was $60,000
  • and that my monthly mortgage payment was also $60,000

Humm . . . that last piece of information I got from the jeweler’s fraud department sure raises a red flag for me! How about you?

Regardless, apparently the information provided on the online credit application was good enough—and my credit good enough—for the three new accounts to be opened.

So, these are the steps I’ve taken thus far:

  1. I notified Experian that fraud had occurred and was assigned a fraud resolution case number by them. Again, I have Countrywide to thank for this situation and for providing the Experian credit monitoring service.
  2. I called the issuing credit card company, Sterling Incorporated (the umbrella company for Jared and Kay Jewelers), to inform them of the fraud and recounted the Countrywide breach and recent activity on my credit report. They closed the two accounts and assigned a fraud investigator to the case.
  3. I called JC Penney and closed that account. Luckily, there was still a zero balance.
  4. I called Transunion’s fraud alert number (800.680.7289) and followed the automated prompts to put a 90-day fraud alert on my name/social security number. I did the same for Vickey’s name and social security number. I understand that with the police case number this can be extended for 7 years.
  5. I called the Bountiful Police Department and filed my identity theft report and was assigned a case number by the police officer.
  6. At the request of the police officer, I went to ic3.gov and filed a complaint about the fraud. This site apparently is used by three different types of government entities focused on Internet crime.
  7. I have also notified my bank of what’s going on and had them place an alert on all our deposit accounts.

I have to admit, it’s a strange feeling being victimized like this. I feel like my integrity has been breached. I know these companies realize this is a case of fraud, but I feel like my personal brand has been trashed. I guess that’s why they call it identify theft.

I’m not sure what I, or we, could have done to prevent this. Our situation seems to completely stem from the foul-up by Countrywide we were informed of in Sept. 2008. I have no other way to explain how a random individual, purportedly living in Las Vegas, could have access to so much information about me.

It’ll be interesting to see where this investigation leads and what comes of all this. Rest assured, I’ll be letting you know right here on our family blog.

Here’s hoping we can reclaim control of our own identity and credit in 2009. We’re also hoping that whoever is responsible for the $5,100 jewelry purchase last week in my name is apprehended and justice served.

No Responses to “What to do if you’re a victim of identity theft”

  1. Shelley January 1, 2009 at 11:04 pm #

    Hey Pete! OMG…so I JUST read this blog of yours the other day and felt awful that you became a victim of identity theft. In my mind, I thought, “Glad it wasn’t me”…well, I must have jinxed myself. I got a call today from Cumorah trying to verify some purchases on my debit card. Someone had racked up over $1000 in purchases over the last 3 days on my debit card at Walmart, Dillards, gas stations, 7 eleven…the list goes on…mostly at Walmart. I just about DIED!!!! And these crooks tried to charge another $459 today before the bank denied it. I feel sick to my stomach. Not to mention that we are out that money until we go through the process to get it returned to us. It’s a awful feeling. We have no idea how this happened. I have my debit card in my wallet safe and sound! Apparently they said that they made a counterfeit card. Unbelievable, ha? Hang in there. I know what you are going through. 🙁 Take care and give your sweet family my love! 🙂


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