Not to long ago I received a letter in the mail advising that medical files at a particular place I visited for a test had been compromised. The form letter advised that all patients were being written, even though they felt they had taken the necessary steps in time to protect our privacy. It went on to advise that all individuals should pull their credit and medical files to be certain nothing false or fraudulent appeared there. Our medical files contain our birth date, social security number and all things related to our health...
I was a victim of identity theft!
I got a knot in my stomach because a few years back someone had made up a fake book of checks and had written three checks against my account forging my name to them to the tune of near $2,000. each. I called my bank and closed the account, as soon as I saw the ugly NSF charges and the strange check in my online checking account. It started with one check, but the bank advised there were two more submitted. We placed a stop on the first one and the others were stopped from being processed. The bank froze my funds and gave me the telephone number for Equifax advising me to get a free credit score and report this fraud to them. Because I had direct deposit I could not access my own pay checks!
My report was in the mail almost the next day.
When you get your report immediately scan it and be on the alert for anything suspicious. A form is given to you to report anything out of the ordinary. When you report a fraud an alert is placed on your identity and anytime someone tries to submit a card or check for payment in your name they must first supply identification. I appreciated the added protection but it did not detract from the fact that I felt violated.
Once it happens you will forever look over your shoulder.
I have. Who took my checking account numbers and name and tried to rob me? I got to see a copy of the fake check and it did not even have my bank name or address correct but the account numbers were exact. My name and address were printed on it. I kept studying the forged signature, comparing the writing of those I knew, with it. I mulled over in my head any and everyone I had written a check to and anyone who may have been in my home. I reported it to the police and they felt that it was not worth pursuing and prosecuting as the bank had recovered their losses by stopping the checks. I was inconvenienced for a month while my funds were frozen and all my accounts were past due, but this seemed to be of little consequence to them.
Periodically request a free credit score.
Your credit score not only reports financial transactions but also will reflect identity theft. Examine with particular attention to any unrecognized companies. Report either frauds or errors right away! It is important to protect your identity as there are those who would not mind taking advantage of your good name. You worked hard to build it. Don't let anyone else ruin it for you. Checking your report is the first place to start.