Friday, January 13, 2012

Identity Theft Sucks, But At Least You Can Do Something About It

So this all started a few days ago. 

First, I received a letter from a collection agency for a credit card I never opened, that was closed back in 2000.  We've argued with them before.  The last big one was back in '07, when I tried, again, to get the police to file a report on it as ID theft, just to get the collection agency to back off.  Sadly, it was past any statute of limitations, so they wouldn't even take the report.  But I had told the agency and the original bank that it was fraud repeatedly.   (When I tried filing a police report in 2000, the police where I lived then told me it was a civil matter, and not their problem.) 

Then last year, while going over my Free Annual Credit Report ( and found the fraudulent card was still being reported on one of them.  However, the woman I talked to at their customer service line was very friendly and helpful.  I got that removed from my report, along with a name, another Social Security number and a couple of addresses that didn't belong. 

So flash forward to this week.  I get the letter asking for over $500 to settle the account (which has now grown to over $5000).  I called them to tell them, again, that it was fraudulent.  They again said they need a police report to do anything about it.  So I tried to figure out what to do, since it was so long ago now.

Then on Wednesday, I get a letter from Capital One saying they think someone was trying to open a fraudulent card in my name with my Social Security number.  I call them immediately.  The woman I talk to is polite and helpful and we get the application denied.  However, she tells me they can't give me any information about the application.  I'd have to file a police report and have them request it.

So back to the police.  Though with a first stop to one of the credit agencies to place a Fraud Alert on my account.  Luckily, they say they'll file it with the other two as well.  To save time, I leave it at that, for now. 

When i talk to the police, the guy taking the report is friendly, but not very hopeful.  He takes what little information I have (Capitol One, the date, and the Case Number) and tells me they can't get any more information without a grand jury subpoena.  Great, just great.

When I post a comment about all this on Facebook, a friend tells me to file an ID Theft report with the FTC (Federal Trade Commission).  I check their website for consumer fraud protection.  The information there is great, though there is a lot.  At one point, despite the fact that it is well-organized and very readable, I felt a bit of information overload.  Just so much there.

But I easily found the form to fill out to file a complaint.  And they even have a cover letter for law enforcement to go with it when you file a police report and a cover letter to send with it to the CRAs (Credit Reporting Agencies).  All very user-friendly.  

Also, I find out that I was told wrong.  In fact, the law says that all I need is a copy of the FTC complaint form and a copy of the police report to request the fraudulent application for the bank.  Oh, but I had to make the request in writing. 

So, today I need to print out my copy of the FTC report, with the cover letter for law-enforcement, and drop it with the police.  Then I'll need to get a copy of the police report, once it's available.  Hopefully, in a week or two, I'll be able to send those out to Capital One and get the information on the application.  Don't know what happens then, but at least I may find out something about who's doing it this time.

And actually, after reading the FTC site and going through the reporting process, I may go back and file a complaint on the one from 2000 as well.  Nothing they can do about whoever did it now, but at least it's on record and maybe sending a copy of the FTC report to the collection agency will be enough to get them to finally back off.

Well, my advice to everyone out there is this: go to the FTC website, even if you haven't been victimized by ID theft, yet.  Read what's there.  It will make you so much better prepared in case it happens.  I know it would have saved me a lot of time and fear if I'd known my rights and what to do from the start. 

If you think you have been a victim, or could be (had ID like wallet, purse, etc, lost or stolen and so on), contact the three CRAs (Experian, Equifax, and TransUnion) and file a Fraud Alert.  Then contact the FTC and file a report there.  Then file with the police.  It will save you time and aggravation. 

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