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How Identity Theft Happens

Updated on September 18, 2009

I didn't buy that

photo from flickr
photo from flickr

Identity Theft

Identity theft befalls any person at any given time, there are ways to protect yourself from it but when you think you have done everything right it happens. The following article is about my second encounter with identity theft. I am not proud of the fact that it happened to me a second time but it did nonetheless. I took every precaution I thought was needed to protect myself from this occurrence. All except for one…

By the time this had happened to me I had been over the last event by two years. I wrote about the first encounter with identity theft in a previous article, relating to ordering pizza with a debit card. This time I had used my credit card to purchase many things from many different places, one of which being the internet.


How does this happen

I had been warned against this action by both friends and family. I had read articles on the internet much like this one, declaring that this action presents a target for identity thieves to focus on. They can and sometimes do extract your information out of the internet, even in encrypted protocols.

I was on the internet searching for ways to make some extra money, looking for the proverbial pot of gold. I spent a lot of time searching and reading about these “business opportunities”. The whole time I was being extremely skeptical of them all. Well, eventually I found one that I thought would prove to be worthwhile. “Get paid to fill out surveys, earn $75.00 each time.” I only had to pay $30.00 to be able to access all of these so called $75.00 surveys. Well needless to say I did.

I know what you’re thinking, and I agree I was an idiot. After purchasing this program for $30.00 with my credit card I got to work. Funny thing is there wasn’t a single survey worth $75.00; they got me, hook, line, and sinker. However, I was able to earn my thirty dollars back at one and five dollar intervals. Essentially I worked on a thirty minute survey to make a dollar or, if I was lucky, five.

After two months of this I had enough, I wasn’t making enough for the amount of time I was spending so I quit. On the third month I looked at my credit card statement. Two things I know I used it for but there was two more items on the statement that I didn’t recognize. On some statements you can click on each item to learn about where they came from. This statement was that way, so I clicked on the first item, and saw that it originated in London (I’ve never been there by the way.) The other item on the statement was pretty much the same way but it originated in Amsterdam. I have been there but only in an airport and over a year and a half ago at this point. So I knew beyond a shadow of doubt that these charges were not mine.

I immediately called the credit card company because I had learned the first time that expedience in rectifying your accounts makes the theft less painful. When I called I talked to customer service and explained what I discovered. They actually charged the credit card this time. The customer service agent started off speaking rudely to me, I did not like that one bit let me tell you. I yelled at this particular person and demanded to speak to her supervisor.

Now I am upset because of the customer service person and the theft. So when the supervisor got on the phone I was a little curt. After speaking with the supervisor for a little bit I calmed down. They told me that their policy was to send out a dispute form so I can fill it out and return it. Ok, I can accept policy. I then asked if I would be penalized if I didn’t pay towards any of the fraudulent charges.

The answer I’d have to say upset me, but who wouldn’t be. Would you want to pay for something I bought with your credit card? “No”.

So I received the forms, filled them out, and returned them. Within one week my card was shut off and I was issued a new one with a higher limit to boot.

The lesson I learned that day was one that I should have listened to from my friends and family. I now use a free service called PayPal. You may have heard of it you may not have, but if you make purchases over the internet I recommend using it or something like it. Since I started using it I have not had any instances of identity theft. Once again I hope this helps anybody who listens. Don’t fool yourself into believing the old, “It won’t happen to me” because it does and it is a painful wake-up call.

Has this happened to you

Has identity theft happened to you

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    • wesleycox profile image

      wesleycox 6 years ago from Back in Texas, at least until August 2012

      It does seem irresponsible to leave those kind of records out in the dumpster. It sounds like they should use a crosscut shredder for their sensitive information. Thanks for reading and commenting.

    • ShreddingExpert profile image

      ShreddingExpert 6 years ago

      I have heard of many cases of identity theft from businesses just leaving boxes full of customers' private information out in alleys behind their office, and from criminals finding these. Fortunately, there are now harsher penalties for these companies, and a lot of regulations to prevent it.

    • wesleycox profile image

      wesleycox 6 years ago from Back in Texas, at least until August 2012

      Thank you for commenting and reading. You bring up some excellent points.

    • profile image

      kattzart 6 years ago

      Even PayPal can be a problem. My daughter and one of her friends had their paypal hacked and their bank accounts accessed because your paypal and your bank account are linked. I'm with ppd credit cards when shopping on line. That way they can't steal something that isn't there. Only load the card with the amount you need to spend.

    • profile image

      sord87 8 years ago

      It is always recommended to use Paypal regarding online payments and so on!Using Credit cards with many sites will lead to identity theft!Good advice!

    • wesleycox profile image

      wesleycox 8 years ago from Back in Texas, at least until August 2012

      HKrafston: Thanks for stopping by and reading, I guess the times they are a changin' so we must change how we conduct business.

    • HKrafston profile image

      HKrafston 8 years ago from Columbus, OH

      Does anyone remember when carbon copies of your credit card recipe was the biggest threat to your credit identity

    • wesleycox profile image

      wesleycox 8 years ago from Back in Texas, at least until August 2012

      Jjustice: I agree with you, I can't stand crooks

      Fortune: I did not know that about the s on http, thank you for commenting

      Crazd: It is no fun at all I assure you. Make sure you take measures to prevent this.

    • profile image

      Crazdwriter 8 years ago

      Vrey hub! very informative. thank you for sharing your experience. It didn't happen to me but it did to my husband. it's no fun at all!

    • profile image

      Fortune 8 years ago

      This is a very serious matter, so many articles have been writen on this topic. If you are very careful you can highly lower the chance of it happening to you. on the internet make sure all payment sites are secured, how do you know secured sites? they must have "s" at the https:

    • Jjustice profile image

      Jjustice 8 years ago

      Sorry brother. People that work for a living shouldn't have to put up with other people who could work for a living using obviously talented minds ripping them off.

      By the way I support the penalties for stealing that arab countries use! Good luck over there and be safe!

    • wesleycox profile image

      wesleycox 8 years ago from Back in Texas, at least until August 2012

      Thank you everyone for the awesome comments. I agree with Erick there are companies out there for ID theft insurance. Hopefully there will be a day when no one needs to worry about ID theft.

    • profile image

      Erick Smart 8 years ago

      It seems to me that there is nothing you can do to stop it. Your mail can be taken (true a PO Box helps), your info stolen from the net (true you do not have to shop and bank there), and this is the big one the stores we shop at lose credit card and bank account info all the time. I figure most people are better off not worrying about prevention and worry more about insurance against the fact. There are companies for this now.

    • profile image

      Opinion Duck 8 years ago

      The small number of comments shows that not too many people take this seriously, but they should.

    • AEvans profile image

      Julianna 8 years ago from SomeWhere Out There

      It has happened to me and it certainly doesn't feel good at all in fact they purchased a car through citibank on me! Grrrr lesson learned never leave your purse in your vehicle for someone to see, it only takes a second and it takes years to clean up there mess that they created for you. I am with Dame use the ppd Visa cards if you are shopping on-line.:)

    • Dame Scribe profile image

      Dame Scribe 8 years ago from Canada

      I use them 'reloadable' cards with a tiny amount, hehe. Glad all turned out ok, thanks for sharing. :)

    • maggs224 profile image

      maggs224 8 years ago from Sunny Spain

      We have had it done to us and you are right the snotty attitude of the credit card customer service people just add insult to injury. We now use Paypal

    • fortunerep profile image

      fortunerep 8 years ago from North Carolina

      That is why I have fraud protection. I was a victim last year and althoug i rec. the majority of my money back, the crook used my card and ordered over 3 thousands dollars worth of car parts. He was finally located, but with the court system, that is trivial.


    • wesleycox profile image

      wesleycox 8 years ago from Back in Texas, at least until August 2012

      Brenda- Thank you and I will

      Dohn121- Thank you. I use PayPal and am very cautious with my CC's.

      Ethel- This is very true. We all need to be more careful

    • ethel smith profile image

      Eileen Kersey 8 years ago from Kingston-Upon-Hull

      So scary and unfortunately prevelant these days

    • dohn121 profile image

      dohn121 8 years ago from Hudson Valley, New York

      This was a very well written hub, wesley. What measures are you taking now to prevent this from happening again?

    • profile image

      \Brenda Scully 8 years ago

      great hub keep writing