Some bum going by the name of Robert L. Stewart (that’s not my middle initial) has stolen my identity. According to the Experian credit report I received today, since June of last year he has used four addresses in Tulsa, three addresses in Kansas City, and two addresses in Topeka to request credit accounts using my Social Security number.
Fortunately, I had very recently put together an information page on avoiding and minimizing the impact of identity theft and other information privacy and security related issues. I used that information to quickly add security alerts to my credit reports at all three major credit reporting agencies here in the US. When you have evidence of fraud, you get free credit reports (normally about $9 each) from each agency.
Experian said it would take 8-10 days for me to get the report, but they won the race by delivering it to me in just 4 days. Experian had a very convenient online form for adding the security alert and requesting a credit report. I had to use automated voice applications with TransUnion and Equifax. While I actually don’t mind IVR (interactive voice response) applications at all, I still usually prefer online forms.
My knowledge of the theft started last week when I got a call from a collections agency customer service rep. Fortunately, he was just calling to let me know about four of the cases of fraudulent activity, but he needed to get a recording of me over the phone denying that I had opened those accounts. I’m thankful to his company for calling me, as I at least now have a chance to clear things up before it gets too bad. Hopefully, they will track the thief down and torture him with Mariah Carey recordings and white hot kebab skewers jammed into his torso. If he is convicted in Illinois, though, they probably will ban the use of the Mariah Carey recordings, so we’ll just have to hope for the skewers.
Unfortunately, the four cases involving companies that that collections agency works for were just the beginning. Thanks to the thief, I have at least four more accounts that I have to get closed. Then, I have to work with all three credit reporting agencies to clean up my credit report.
I see that Discover Card (like AmEx) has a single use account number option, but it appears to require use of “Deskshop” – apparently a Windows-only app. Yuck. Isn’t that somewhat of an oxymoron? One must use an inherently insecure OS to take advantage of a security measure.
Hey, this just happened to Molly. Thanks for the information on your site – it has been useful – especially the links/phone numbers. The interesting part of her story is that within 30 minutes of having a Fraud Alert placed with TransUnion, Nordstrom’s called indicating that the thief was in their store applying for credit – and did Molly want that person arrested? Of course Molly said yes, but there was no “badged” officer to make the arrest.