Poll: Have you ever been the victim of identity theft?

Since identity theft is in the news often and apparently the incidence is increasing I was wondering how many people here have been victims of it?

My own experience happened about 9 years ago. This was before we bought a house. We were living in a fairly large and fancy apartment building in a different suburb of Boston. It was the kind of building with a rental and maintenance office right in the building, 24 hour security guards, etc. Our mail was left in little locked boxes in the lobby that supposedly only the mailman had the key to.

One day I got a call from a well known credit card company asking if I had recently made several large cash advances at an ATM on my VISA card. Well, I had several credit cards then, but none of them were with this company, none of them were VISA, and I never do cash advances.

The operator asked me if I wanted to cancel the account and I said yes. It turned out our building had been “red-flagged” because of several instances of people getting issued cards they hadn’t applied for, which they never saw and on which large cash advances were made.

I was later contacted by a US Post Office investigator. After getting my side of the story he told me he suspected someone other than the mailman had access to the mail room in our building and was intercepting these cards before the people whose names they were in could get them. He said the victims were all male, and like me all had generic “American” sounding names.

He said he had his suspicions but that he had not been getting the kind of cooperation he wanted from the building management. For example, they had installed a hidden camera in the mail room, but the building manager told everyone it was there, so naturally they didn’t catch any suspicious activity!

We were able to get all the impostor’s activity removed from my credit report, and we put a note on it to tell creditors not to issue credit without verbal permission from me.

They eventually caught the guy…turns out it was a building security guard. The Post Office investigator had suspected him because he was Nigerian, and he claimed Nigerians were often involved in this type of scheme (don’t know if there is any truth to this, just relaying what he said). He had somehow gotten a duplicate key to the mailroom. I never understood why the didn’t just change the locks early on.

Anyone else have a story?

No, sublight’s never had his identity stolen.

Well, my mother got a notice from Social Security concerning income she had earned recently.

Her SS card had been lost some time before. We think that an undocumented alien had used her number to get a job.

She was about 75 at the time and had advanced Alzheimer’s. I did nothing about it, as I was spread way too thin managing their life (my father was an invalid also) and I was barely getting the income tax accomplished, food clothing and shelter, and the crises managed.

No harm, the heck with it, let’m work if they want to.

Not the typical stolen identity problem.

Yup, I lost my ID that had my SS# on it in a cab. I was contacted by a collection agency. I had to sign a lot of affadavits and while I have excellent credit, I still can’t get instant credit without a lot of rigamarole (sp?). It happened in '96. They never caught the person.

Sorry that happened to you, it sucks that people do crap like that.

[Fraud Analyst Hat ON]

It’s true. Fraud is a booming industry amongst some Nigerian immigrants.

From here:

One of the simplest ways to obtain account information or actual bank cards is through postal theft. Numerous Nigerian fraud rings operate sophisticated theft operations throughout the eastern and southern regions of the United States. Having illegally obtained legitimate bank cards or account information, the group then creates portfolios of fictitious identification, including driver’s licenses, social security cards, and other materials, to support the purchasing power behind those cards. At the direction of group leaders, “runners” purchase merchandise from a variety of sources until the legitimate owners report the cards as stolen or confiscated.

From here:

Fraud rings sometimes recruit insiders to dispense consumer data, as they did in the Detroit case, or even get themselves hired in jobs where they have access to personnel records or credit reports. “We are seeing an increase in the ‘inside job’ in the workplace,” said Beth Givens, director of the Privacy Rights Clearinghouse, in testimony before Congress last year. In one case, she testified, “a member of a Nigerian crime ring employed temporarily at a very large corporation downloaded the employee list containing social security numbers, and then one by one the employees’ identities were used for fraudulent purposes.”

[Fraud Analyst Hat Off]

Hmmmm. Maybe it isn’t as common a crime as the media leads us to believe.

True identity theft - a fraudulent application with your information or someone taking over your account - happens all the time.

Because of all the media coverage about identity theft, people are prone to label any type of fraud as such. Stolen cards/account numbers, counterfeit cards are also very common, but do not fit the parameters of identity theft. No personal information is compromised/used.

A friend of mine recently tried to open up a bank account for her 10 year old son. Image her surprise when his s.s.# came up for a defaulted car loan! Apparently someone had used the number to get the credit and buy a car, then disappeared without paying the loan.

I’m helping her get it erased from his record.

Same story as Heart on my Sleeve, basically. Wallet is left behind/lost. Collection letters and calls, loads of notarized affidavits, two and a half years later I’m not able to get overdraft protection on any bank account I try to open. I barely got a debit card! Theives really suck. When I want to buy a house I’m sure I’ll have a fun time.

Went to close on my house and was told that I had a collection for $1300 that was going to hold things up. I’d had a credit rating in the 900s, but I didn’t get the benefit of the doubt.

Somebody used my SS# to get a year’s worth of free telephone service with a feminized version of my name (Michelle for Michael). I guess you can rack up $1300 worth before they cut you off.

Had to come out of pocket just to get the keys. And then the fun began. Had to spend several months wrangling with an extremely shady credit company before I got my money back. Apparently, credit is extended with minimal checking, but people with perfect credit trying to prove their innocence require extensive documentation. Fuckers.

I’ve never had my identity stolen to my knowledge, but similar to someone else I had a miskeyed social security number result in looking like I had $3000 in unpaid debt from when I was 17(!!).

I do have people quite frequently pretend to be me on other message boards and IRC, but I don’t think that counts (though it’s still oogy.)

At transfer orientation this past summer, the older students were advised to keep close track of our driver’s licenses, and if ours goes missing, to notify the campus and town police immediately. This is so underage students can’t use them as fake IDs. The cops send a list of missing licenses to the bars and other local businesses (including banks).

I also read an article published in our credit union newsletter that said that it’s a good idea to open a savings account for a newborn immediately so the child has a history. It recommended a savings account, and if you want to get crazy, a passport (I know, kids can travel on their parents’, but I’m just repeating what the article said). This makes it a lot harder for a random person to use a child’s SSN by establishing a paper trail.


A few years ago I bought a cell phone for my husband and opened an account for him using my credit info. I had to supply my social security number to open the account. About 2 weeks later I recieved a call from a credit card company verfying that I wanted to open a new credit card account with them. I told them I didn’t apply for any new credit cards, and I was really glad they phoned me. They said they were a little suspicious because the address didn’t match what was in my credit file and the middle name was different from mine.

It turns out someone who worked at the cell phone store took my information and tried to open several accounts in my name. They used their own home address, which the credit card company handed over to me. I phoned the police to file a report and to give them this person’s address, and they said that even though we know where they live, they wouldn’t do anything to stop these people because no crime had been committed (no card was successfully issued). So, what’s to keep them from trying it again? Makes no sense to me…

One of my relatives stole a checking account debit card and went nuts with it for a couple months. I suppose she had to sign my wife’s name to make purchases, but I don’t think that counts as identity theft.

For the curious - the secret service is still investigating and I will press charges, if I have a chance.

I had mine stolen. The interesting thing is that I wasn’t missing any physical piece of ID. I suspect that someone either skimmed my credit card or perhaps a receipt had my Visa number on it.

The thief worked quickly. He/she ordered a cell phone, signed up for a calling plan (in my name), applied for 5 credit cards (also in my name), and tried to order a $2000 computer from Dell, all in the span of about a week. Evidently the cell phone number served as voice confirmation whenever a merchant or credit card company was suspicious about the difference in shipping/billing addresses.

I found out about it when they tried to order the computer (via snail mail) and when I got a bill from Verizon (I don’t have a cell phone). After that, I called the three US credit bureaus, Equifax, Experian, and Trans Union. They froze all of my account activity and put a red flag on my account for credit card issuers. The account freeze/flag lasted for 6 months. Visa cancelled my card and sent me another one. I had to fill out affadavits and file a police report. I documented everything that I could and turned over copies to whomever asked for it.

Everyone was very gracious. I didn’t have to pay a dime. Verizon and Visa telephone reps were helpful. The reps at the credit bureaus were helpful too and were very efficient in handling my case. It was very different than what I expected; I remember reading 5-10 years ago about a woman whose ID was stolen and she said “I had to keep pleading with everyone, saying ‘I’m ME! Why won’t you believe me?!’”

I honestly don’t believe that anyone was caught. Since the total dollar value loss was under $1000, I suspect that no one put much effort into pursuing it. It’s too bad too because I wanted to see some compensation for the merchants who got ripped off.

Who loses the money(not counting credit rating or reputation)?

Does the individual lose the money, the merchant, the credit-card issuer, the bank, the insurance carrier, the IRS (‘deductible expense of doing business’)?

Does the one who loses pursue the investigation, or another party?