As some of you may know, i'm the victim of identity theft. Specifically, someone (a man with a birthdate in 1967) is using my name exactly as i use it to pass bad checks back in 2000 and 2001. I first learned of this in January when i had to get fingerprinted for my job and an arrest warrent showed up for me (under my name, a different social, date of birth, and sex), and it popped up again in August when i bought my home. Today, when i called a check-printing company to find out the status of my new check order, I was told that my original order in September failed ALL of the fraud checkpoints, and i've been banned from ever ordering anything from them. *gulp*
Since i was at work with online access, i Googled "identity theft" and found an official-looking site ---The Federal Trade Commission
-- and got to work. First thing it said to do was put a fraud alert on my credit reports with Trans Union, Experian and Equifax. Call one company, and they'll alert the other two, and all three will send free copies of my credit report. (as a bonus, i'll stop getting pre-approved credit card offers! hooray!!). Second thing it said to do was file a police report.
The officer just left, and the report has been filed. Sadly, there's not too much they can do, and the chances of catching the SOB who's exploiting my good name are pretty slim. luckily, this is the one crime where i can file the complaint and it can be prosecuted from here, no matter where the actual crime took place. (technically, the companies that issued the credit are the victims, but the law for identity theft is different from other laws, so in this instance it's working to my benefit).
Things i've learned:
*Get my credit report from ALL THREE credit reporting bureaus EVERY YEAR. had i been doing this all along, i'd have found out right away, not three years later, that someone was using my name to pass bad checks in three states.
*Close all credit card accounts that aren't active. having a zero balance isn't good enough ... if the account is still active, it can be used against ya (both by identity thieves and lenders when scoring your credit; you have the *potential* to run up those credit accounts)
*don't have your checks mailed to your home when you order them. The officer told me this one ~ if someone takes them out of your mailbox, the ways in which that information can be used is endless. order checks through your bank, and pick them up at the bank. (from working in a bank, i know this can be done ... it's just inconvenient)
*The Federal Trade Commission website is the single best resource for victims of identity theft. The officer told me the FTC had all the info i needed, and said that if i follow their directions, i'm doing everything i can and should do. He said to make sure i file a complaint with the FTC, and they pass the info on to the Secret Service (!!!). unless it's over $100,000 per individual (mine's about $1500), or is part of a larger ring of theft, the Secret Service kicks it back to the local law enforcement to handle. they do, apparently, keep track of all complaints, so with any luck, it'll put me one step closer to catching this jerk.
The warrant for "my" arrest is a different story. since this creep isn't using my SS#, it'll be harder to clear up. the SS# he's using will show up under my name as a secondary SS#, and should i get pulled over/arrested for unrelated reasons, it'll be pretty hairy til we get things straightened out. I couldn't get him to tell me how to handle this should it happen, but having a police report on file documenting this ought to help.
i'm still really frustrated, but at least i'm FINALLY doing something about this. i can't stress enough how important it is to get your credit report from all three companies every year. i could've saved myself a LOT of trouble had a spent the $14 per report.....