H/t my ol’ friend Sol
Yowza! That was pretty freaky. Really makes you think about what can be uncovered about any element of your life.
I had the unpleasant experience of going through Identity Theft about 10 years ago, and the hair-raising sensation of realizing someone has been not only screwing with your credit but PRETENDING TO BE YOU pretty much knocks the air out of you. I’ve worked in banks and had always safeguarded my Social Security number (it’s not on my license), used passwords instead of Mothers’ Maiden Name on credit accounts, and hadn’t lost my handbag, but someone STILL managed to get my info and open 3(!) American Express cards (something that totally freaked out AE Customer Service), RE-open a credit account I’d closed months before, and try to use my credit rating to qualify for a MORTGAGE in San Bernadino, CA (and I live in MA!)
And what’s even more astonishing: I was LUCKY. The band of thieves with my info only had it active for a little over a month. I knew nothing was amiss until I was called by the credit department of a chain store where they tried to apply for a store card in my name. When the woman politely asked me to confirm the application information and I told her I’d filed no such request, that was the ONLY WAY I KNEW ANYTHING WAS HAPPENING. In shock, I immediately had red flags put on everything I own, filed police reports, and started an RMV investigation into the false identity issue while sifting through all my credit reports to see what else had been happening without my knowledge. The thugs realized the jig was up then and moved on, but the month plus of playing with my info took almost 5 months to investigate, challenge, and resolve. And my stomach was churning for months after that …
The lesson here? You can never be too careful with your information, and despite your best efforts, you may still be fooled by the devious and desperate. We’re living in a crazy world, people: be friendly, but hold your “sensitive info” cards close at all times. And check your credit report regularly; it could save you a lot of headaches!
Thank you Dr. Eowyn and Sol for this incredible post! Wow, this is very scary, especially the comment from Stephanie O.
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