Identity Theft

Someone tried to open a best buy credit card under my name, and someone racked up a variety of charges on my favorite credit card.  Yep, it’s identity theft time, again.

On April 18th, I received an email from one of my fraud monitoring alert systems (I actually have two) that a new inquiry was on record.  Since I haven’t been applying for credit for anything, I checked it out.  Best Buy.  Someone was trying to use my credit with Best Buy, somehow.  Since no new accounts were opened, I wasn’t too worried about it yet.  A couple hours later, I got a call from a friendly best buy representative and she wanted to verify that I had applied for a credit card online.  Of course I didn’t, so I went through that process.  There’s now a 7-year flag on my credit account with all three credit bureaus that says that anytime I (or someone acting as me) attempts to open a new account, I must be contacted and provide the necessary identiy and password information to open the account.  Nice thing to have in place, and since I extremely rarely open new lines of credit (usually only to take advantage of some new credit card rewards system), it works for me.

Today I checked on my favorite credit card to see how my spending has been doing, and the balance was significantly higher than I thought it would be.  Scrolling through the normal daily purchases, I found several $400-$500 cash-advance types of line items.  Lovely.  I called the credit card company, got those charges (and their related transaction fees) removed, the card number has been cancelled, and I should have a new one in the mail in a couple days.

This isn’t the first time I’ve had an identity theft issue.  Several years ago, I had it happen and it was clear who the perpetrators were, but other than getting the charges reversed, nothing came of it.  About six months later, in an unrelated incident, on a different card, something similar happened.  At some point down the line I was one of the millions of people whose identity was stolen in one of the massive online hacks, and was provided with free online credit monitoring services.

The whole issue of proper identification, security, and identity theft are not going away anytime soon.  Once you have the right information about someone, it’s easy to start making a mess.  And it’s likely not even your fault that your data was compromised.  You can shred every last bit of data, and not even use your credit card in the real world and have your identity “borrowed”.  In this week’s incidents, it could be one perpetrator, it could be two separate incidents.  Neither would surprise me.

The best thing you can do is just keep tabs on your accounts.  When you see something that isn’t right, call the company and tell them there’s charges you’re not expecting and did not make.  Walk through whatever process it is they have you go through, and it’ll get fixed up.  The Best Buy process (where the 7-year flag was added to my credit) took about 20 minutes.  The fraudulent credit card charges took about 10 minutes.  This is becoming such a frequent issue for all parties involved that it’s a routine process at this point.

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