Identity Theft: My Tale from the Other Side

Submitted by Tara1902

Ten years ago, I knew a couple who had their identities stolen. Just watching what a hassle their life became (and the plethora of out of pocket expenses they had to incur) was enough to convince me that I needed to invest in a paper shredder—and take the time to use it. What I didn’t realize then, though, was that shredding wasn’t enough to protect my identity. Unfortunately, identity theft has only progressed in the last ten years and novice thieves aren’t only concerned with gathering information left behind by an unguarded paper trail. Our electronic, cashless, society plays right into the hands of identity thieves and makes the personal information of millions of unsuspecting people readily accessible.

That was my case. Last year I was traveling on business and quickly working my way through O’Hare airport on a layover. My time in Chicago totaled less that two hours, but that was all it took for someone to steal my identity. Desperately needing fresher breath (and an excuse not to talk to the poor soul sitting next to me on my next flight) I stopped into the airport gift shop to grab a pack of gum and a magazine. Without even thinking twice I handed the clerk my debit card and by the time I landed back in California, a few days later, fraudulent charges had been made.

Thus began the process of researching and reporting the crime. Upon calling my bank I learned that I needed to file a police report before the matter could be handled. The first question I was asked was, “Were you in Chicago when the crime was committed?” Apparently they were trying to determine whether the crime fell under federal or state jurisdiction. But by the way they presented the question I assumed they were accusing me of having made the fraudulent charges myself. They assured me that wasn’t the case, but I still felt like a criminal.

Now, I’m a family woman. A churchgoing family woman. I have values, and lots of them. So, imagine my embarrassment when I discovered that an identity thief had used my bank account to purchase internet porn. Every conversation with every law enforcement agency, bank or credit bureau always included an awkward pause when I was asked, “And what was fraudulently purchased with your debit card?”

That definitely isn’t an experience I want to repeat again. I wish IdentityTheft.com had been around a year ago. If they had, I might have been better protected. This website and this blog are great FREE resources geared toward helping you protect your good name and your good reputation (no embarrassing purchases to ruin your clean record).

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