Identity Theft and It's Horrors
I will share a little story of mine that I'm sure many people out there can relate you. It's one of the biggest, most common, easiest, and undetectable crimes out there today. It's nearly impossible to stop it and it will leave the unsuspecting victims feeling helpless and violated.
A few weeks ago I received a missed call while at work at about ten o'clock on a Monday morning. I listened to the voicemail left on my phone (since I don't like answering calls from unknown numbers) from a company (we'll refer to them as Company A) informing me that they had an order which was placed on my card, but they were under the impression that it was fraudulent. I had never heard of the company before and hadn't purchased anything from them in my life.
I then went to check my bank account online and nearly fell off my chair. My account had a $-241.00 balance in my checking account. I looked closer and saw that an order of almost $800.00 was deducted from my account from (Company B) - a company I had also never heard of.
I felt like it was all hitting me at once. I didn't know what to do first. What do you do when faced with a situation like that? What else was being ordered on my card? What other information did these scam artists get of mine? How did they get all this?
I'm not really one of those people who buys from a lot of online stores - just a select few. And from those few, I thought that I was on a secure site since those websites are reputable, ones where no one would be able to hack into any of my personal information.
I was forced run to my nearest bank branch, cancel my card, and notify them that there was identity theft on my account. I also had to contact those two companies and inform Company A to please refrain from debiting my account, while having to explain my predicament to Company B. The woman I spoke to at Company B informed me that the person or persons who had my information had my first and last name, my debit card number, my billing and mailing address as well as my CVV code in the back of my debit card, because in order to place the order with that company, that information was needed. She informed me that she would try to get my account refunded, but was unsure how long it would take.
Meanwhile, I had to also contact the bank's headquarters and was then told by the woman I spoke to that it could take up to a month for me to get any of my money back. She was very cold to me on the phone and utterly unsympathetic to my situation. I was at a loss for words. I had no money. I had bills. I needed money to get to and from work and for food. I needed money to live. This was unacceptable! I felt helpless and overwhelmed.
Luckily for me, the woman at Company B kept her word and managed to credit my account back; the amount that was debited from me - though this took a few days. I also had to notify the nearest police department and fill out a complaint for identity theft. The police officer that helped me, as nice and as helpful as he was, was brutally honest. He told me that nothing was going to end up happening with the complaint. It was simply going to be filed as identity theft because it dealt with people who had done this out of state. No justice would be served. These people would not be caught.
I was forced to close my bank account and open all new accounts at a different bank. It was my only option. I had to cut whatever ties I had with my old bank and start fresh, and hopefully put the whole thing behind me. One very important thing that I needed to do was also inform the credit bureaus to put an identity theft alert on my account as well as monitoring it for unusual activity.
There is no way for me to know how my information was taken. Online? At an ATM? At a gas station? There are a number of ways that someone can steal your identity. You just need to be as careful as you can when using your card and who you give your information to because no one should have to go through this.