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Advice about Crime
Can anyone advise me on what steps to take to protect my credit? My wallet, containing my social security card as well as my driver's license, was stolen two nights ago at Barnes and Noble. The thief made a series of charges on my credit card account. I've made a police report, closed all credit accounts, filled out bank affidavits of fraud etc., but am worred about identity fraud. With a social security number, a criminal can open a credit card account in another person's name and charge it to the limit.
I have been advised that I should contact the three major credit bureaus (Equifax, Experian, Trans Union), and have already sent written notification to all three, asking that a fraud alert be put on my credit report. I wonder if there are any other steps that I can or should take. Has anyone else been through this?
The thief will most likely put a false photo on your driver's license and impersonate you at banks. With a social security card, they may be able to open an account and overdraw it immediately. It will be done at remote locations where no one could know you. That's the bank's problem, but they'll still try to go after you. You can go to the DMV and get a NEW driver's license. Not a copy, but a new one with a new number. You'll need the police report and either a bank or credit card report of fraud. They won't just give you a new number unless you can show fraud. But that's what you need to prevent them using your driver's license as an ID. Call the DMV first and check on it.
Contact social security to check on your account there also. I'm sure they have some steps for you to take (didn't have my social card stolen).
You did the right thing in alerting the credit bureaus. You'll need to be prepared to have your own, legitimate requests for credit rejected because the credit bureaus are not completely efficient and neither are banks, stores etc. It will take some doing to get credit (even for a mortgage).
Be sure to carry with you copies of all the police reports and any bank/credit statements saying accounts are closed because if the thief perpetrates fraud with your name, YOU could be arrested (eg during a traffic stop when they check you out for outstanding warrants).
This can go on for several years. Be diligent and you'll win (I did get my $5,000 back!).
My sister had her purse stollen 2 years ago fro a restuarant at Jack London Square and is STILL dealing with it. If you are lucky, your wallet was stollen by a small time thief and not someone working for a major ring. Below is a list of some steps that you can take: * You will need to contact ALL three credit services and ask that a note be added to your record indicating the theft and that all new credit applications need to be verified with a phone call to you. This will help if the business actually contacts the credit services before issuing credit. You may also want to inquire if you can add a password or something in the event that you find yourself at a store trying to open credit. You can't very well be at home to receive an authorisation call in such an instance. Unfortunately, such companies as Target, Mervyn's, Speigel's, most mail order catalogs and so-called discounted stores may not check with the credit agengie before offering instant credit. * You should get copies of your credit report from all three agencies about every three months to check on who's been making inquiries into your account and who has issued credit. Contact these people and inform them of the fraud. If any charges were made against the new credit account, ask the credit issuer if they would be willing to write a letter detailing the fraud. Make sure they include the driver's license number that was used for verification. You will need this to prove fraud to the DMV before they will seal your old license number and issue a brand new one. * You will need to request DMV records since they can now get insurance under your name and license number. * Since they also have your social security number, you will need to check your social security account frequently to see if they have used it to obtain work. For my sister this was easy since she is a teacher and has not contributed to SS for nearly 10 years. * When you do get your credit reports, ask that any address/es that was/were used to have new credit cards and merchandise sent to, be removed from your reports. Too many addresses make you look unstable and prone to move around a lot. This could be used against you when you legitimately want to apply for credit such as for a mortgage. * Remember to be vigilant with your credit reports. Any bad reports made for none payment or for overdue accounts that were open fraudently must be removed from your report. If the credit reporting agencies refuse, at the very least, make sure they annotate the record as an account that was fraudulently opened and used. (So far my sister has been very lucky in having all negative reports removed.) * If you had a check stolen, close your account and ask that a note be placed indicating the reason for the closure. If you have outstanding checks out, you will need to leave some funds to cover those checks. If the thief decides to have new checks printed (as they did with my sister) be prepared for nasty, threatening letters demanding payment. * Make and keep very many copies of the police report, letters from the credit reporting agencies, DMV confirming the theft. You will want to keep a file of all of the letters that you receive regarding fraudulent use of your credit. Better yet, keep a separate file for each account which includes all of the information--when you sent them your information, their response, etc. A good idea is to maintain a calendar of the theft and the activites against your accounts, dates when credit was issued, dates when you sent letters explaining the situation, dates when you will need to request credit reports. If you do, you may see if and when the activity tapers off. * As difficult as all of this sounds, you will need to be organised and proactive. The police, while they may be very sympathetic, will do precious little. They will not prosecute for fraud unless the credit card companies and the merchants who were ripped-off press charges. Although it is your credit that it is at risk, from the police point of view, it is the credit card companies and merchants--and not YOU-- that are the victims of fraud. Unfortunatly, most credit card companies and merchants just write off the loss since they write if off their taxes or may be reimbursed by their insurance. * Finally, take a deep breath and try to relax. Hopefully, your situation will not be as bad as my sister's. But do brace yourself--you may receive threatening letters from attorneys demanding payment. Remember, under the law you are not liable for more than $50.00 of fraudulent charges if you report the theft within three days of the occurance--which you have done already. And most credit card companies do not even pursue the $50.00. Unfortunately, you may have to remind some of these people that you are the victim. Good luck. I hope this has helped and not frightened you more. I can greatly sympathesize, especially after watching my sister and mother-in-law deal with it simultaneously.
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