Identity theft can happen to anyone - chances are, you know of someone who has fallen victim to identity fraud, or your own personal and financial information has been compromised. Here at RATESDOTCA, identity theft has even affected one of our own. Our team member Alison knew something was up when multiple unsolicited credit cards with her name started arriving in her mailbox. In the spirit of Fraud Prevention Month, she was kind enough to share her fraud victim experiences with our great readers!
When did you find out you were a victim of identity theft?
I am not exactly sure of the exact time frame, but my guess would be two weeks after the theft actioned. A piece of mail from Future Shop was mailed to my attention, with a credit card inside. At first, I thought it was just a piece of Direct Mail being sent. However, after taking a closer look, I noticed my name was actually on the credit card and the letter thanked me for signing up etc. Within a few days, I had three credit cards arrive to my mailing address, all with minor errors in the spelling of my name, my address or incorrect postal code.
How were you notified?
The credit card provider, Chase Bank, actually contacted via phone to ask if I had in fact signed up for three of their credit cards. Note, this was after the credit cards had arrived in the mail.
Were you given direction or advised to take any immediate action?
After my conversation with Chase, when I advised them that I did not sign up for these credit cards, they then told me the steps I would need to take in order to have the situation to be taken under control.
Did the thief cause any damage to your credit or access any of your funds?
No, all records were cleared from my account and luckily they did not gain access to my personal funds. They did, however, sound an alarming amount of collection agencies that would call me non-stop regarding three accounts they managed to open under my personal information. I had to provide the police case reference number to all collection agencies that contacted me in order for them to stop contacting me. I was getting calls up to a year after!
Do you have any idea how your information may have been stolen?
Still to this day, I really don’t have any idea how this happened. Chase and the local police department did their investigations; however, unfortunately, they really don’t provide you with any updates after your case has been made. My guess is that it happened through a random ATM machine that I used while on a weekend trip in Quebec, as this was the only unfamiliar method of transaction that I had done within the prior weeks – but again, this is only my guess.
In retrospect, is there anything you would have done differently?
I would have acted faster. I was somewhat passive about the situation at first and didn’t really think about the personal consequences it would have on my credit, or the fact that I was only allowing the thieve to open MORE accounts under my name.
Any tips for others experiencing identity theft?
- Always open any mail address to you, even if you are 99.9% sure it’s just a piece of Direct Mail you’re not interested in, and keep all pieces of mail, email and a log with any collection agency conversations for future reference when filing your identity theft case.
- Act right away – call the issuer of the credit card and advise them that you specifically did not sign up for “X” credit card and you are a victim of identity theft so they can close the account and further investigate.
- Contact your local police department and file a case for identity theft.
- Call credit major credit bureaus (TransUnion & Equifax) and advise them of the specific accounts that were signed up under your name without consent. Ask for a block to be placed on your account that will not allow any further accounts to be opened under your name unless you call in and provide verbal consent.
Have you ever been a victim of identity theft? How long did it take to clear up your credit?