Last week I discussed what happened when I was a victim of credit card fraud. Unfortunately, the night before you read about my experience with credit card fraud things took a turn for the worse.
Turns out my credit card fraud case turned into identity theft quickly. When I went online to upload my credit card fraud affidavit to my bank I decided to check my credit card activity just in case. What I found shocked me…
The Transaction That Tipped Me Off
My credit card was cancelled and a new credit card was issued. It was shipped overnight to me after I found out I was a victim. I received the card on Thursday and called to activate it via the company’s phone system.
Now that I had my new credit card I knew I had to update any automatic payments I had scheduled on that credit card. I signed in to my other accounts online to update my automatic payments with my new credit card number. I then checked my credit card activity and was blown away.
There was a multi-thousand dollar cash advance in process. It actually ended up being a balance transfer to pay off the thief’s credit card. I was livid!
I Called My Credit Card Company
I immediately called my credit card company to alert them. I asked what this cash advance was a they told me that it was a balance transfer that I had requested to pay off my credit card from another bank… WRONG!
I notified my credit card company that I’ve never had any type of account with the other bank and this was another fraudulent transaction. Luckily the person who initiated the transaction had started it just a couple hours before and the money had not transferred yet.
My credit card company was able to stop the money before it went to the fraudster’s credit card. At this point I was freaking out and knew I needed to take steps to protect myself.
What To Do If You Think You Are An Identity Theft Victim
The first thing I was instructed to do is contact the three major credit bureaus, Experian, Transunion and Equifax and place a 90 day fraud alert on my credit report. You only have to contact one bureau and then they will alert the other two bureaus within 24 hours. I didn’t want to wait 24 hours in case the fraudster was acting quickly.
Essentially a fraud alert will alert any creditor that there has recently been fraudulent activity associated with the credit report. It instructs the creditor to contact you via a phone number you provide before granting any credit.
I called two of the bureaus to place a fraud alert and placed the third fraud alert via the bureau’s website. I learned that reporting online gives you the advantage of getting a free credit report immediately, even if you have already used your free annual credit report for that bureau.
I reviewed my credit report and luckily found no other fraudulent activity yet. I’ll have to continue monitoring my credit report going forward to ensure nothing out of the ordinary pops up.
Contact All of Your Creditors and Banks
I immediately contacted all of my other credit cards and banks as soon as I had completed placing fraud alerts with all three bureaus. Every bank and credit card company will tell you they’re constantly monitoring your account for fraud but letting them know you’ve recently been a victim will put them on high alert.
Another thing you should do is change all of your passwords and pin numbers with any bank or creditor. It can never hurt to be too careful because you have no idea what information your identity thief has.
File a Police Report
Last week I told you I didn’t file a police report for the $19.95 purchase of Proactiv. Well… things have changed. If you have been a victim of identity theft you DEFINITELY need to file a police report.
A police officer came out to my house and took down all of the information I knew at the time, which wasn’t much. He told me that since I hadn’t actually lost any money there was little chance they would look into it as we only have one officer working financial crimes. I guess that’s an effect of budget cuts.
Regardless, filing a police report allows you to show that you have taken action. Once my credit card company assigns a fraud investigator I will relay this information to the police and update my police report.
What I’ve Learned Since Thursday About My Case
Now that things have calmed down I have been able to do more investigating myself. I was able to talk to a fraud specialist at my credit card company and found out that the fraudster called my credit card company to initiate the balance transfer.
They know my full social security number, my birthday and enough about me to answer random identity verification questions without hesitating. This is pretty scary and definitely makes me a victim of identity theft.
My credit card company also has some other information that could lead to identifying the fraudster and should make this a pretty open and shut case if anyone actually investigates it.
There is some other evidence that I’ve been able to gather but I’m not going to write about it now. I don’t want to jeopardize my potential case but I’ll be sure to update you when I can.
I know what I’ve gone through is pretty crazy but there are much worse cases out there. Have you ever been a victim of identity theft beyond simple credit card fraud? Am I missing anything I should do to take preventative action?