It’s never going to happen to me. That’s what I used to say, until one afternoon when I came back from work, my wife picked up the mail earlier and told me asked me why did you apply for a Walmart CC, she handed me the envelope with the new Credit Card, my heart started racing. It wasn’t me the one who applied for it. As we sorted the mail, we also found a Credit Card for Best Buy and Target. I felt butterflies in my stomach; I didn’t know what to do. I called the Credit Card companies to find out more. To my surprise, all the information matched, current address, SSN, DL Number, Name, except the contact information. My first thought I want a new SSN, I thought you could change it, boy I was wrong, I am sticking to this number until the day I die. In 2018, 18 million people in the US suffered from Identity Theft. It’s an equivalent of 16 Billion dollars of debt. 3.3 million people were liable to pay it back.
I will share with you the three steps that I followed, and they prevented me from the financial liability, I still had to fix all the leftover mess.
- I called one of the Credit Bureaus to place a 90-day fraud alert. This alert is distributed to the remaining two bureaus, so everyone is aware of the situation. Boy, if that was helpful. I spent 30 mins validating my identity over the phone and updating all the data appropriately. Once I did, my phone rang every 5-10 mins with a new inquiry. I declined all of them. My phone stopped ringing after the 3rd day.
- File a Police Report right away. In some locations, you could do it online or even over the phone. I did mine over the weekend over the phone and the following Monday I went police station with all the credit cards, and other “evidence” that I had, I wanted to have my report documented as much as I could. I became an investigator, and Indeed found the physical BestBuy store that the thief went to buy some electronics. I asked for the videotape; however, Best Buy would only release it to the police, and the detective assigned to my case wasn’t interested enough, and he never did anything. It doesn’t surprise me.
- Pull a full credit report from the 3 Bureaus. This is when the fun starts and when reality hits. That’s when you realize how fast a stranger can destroy your credit. It only took me three days to go from 740 to 349. There was very little I could do the damage was already done, I focus my energy on fixing it. I sorted the unauthorized CCs with active credit and called them. I was transferred to the fraud department, and the first thing they will do is close the Line of Credit. Then they will launch an internal investigation to find out if you are liable to pay the debt back. One of the first documents you will be asked to share is the police report! Yes!! I had one; after weeks of uncertainty. I received a few letters in the mail from the fraud departments where they were releasing me of the financial liability. I wouldn’t be responsible for paying back. It was a loss to them.
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Nowadays, with technology like apple pay, RFID enabled Credit Cards, online shopping, Venmo, online banking. They had a useful purpose of making our lives easier there is also a dark side of it, are you prepared in case it happens to you?
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