I’m wearing my serious pants today on the blog and what I have to say may just benefit you in the long run. I was always one of those “Oh it will never happen to me, because I’m very careful about spending and don’t use a credit card.” WRONG. It can happen and it will happen. Where there’s a will and a devious way–people that want to do mean things WILL DO THEM.
|This was the sassiest Lab I’ve ever met at one of the wineries in Italy. He made me happy on the same day I realized all my money was being spent by someone else. Remedy? Drink more wine.|
So there I was in Italy, minding my own business, eating gelato and making pasta and BOOM! I get a call that my account has been overdrawn.
Well that’s weird–I’m not even using that card.
I log into my online account only to see that “I” have been racking up charges at a PA gas station, purchasing airline tickets to Texas, shopping at the mall, and so on. WELL SHIT.
I was immediately overcome with panic, because there was literally not a single thing I could do while abroad besides begin to dispute the charges on my card virtually.
Upon touchdown in the grand ol’ USofA, I practically ran to my bank. Almost 5 days later, I think I’m out of the woods–but it didn’t come easily!
I am BY NO MEANS an expert, but these are some of the helpful things I’ve learned along the way.
1. Stop all access to your cards and if your bank is able–freeze the account. I was able to cancel my card, but what I didn’t realize what that my entire account number had been compromised so the little thieves were withdrawing from my savings and then using it through my checking. Sneaky little things…
2. Change your online banking passwords immediately. It was also recommended to me that I change my login information for every online account I have. Apparently hackers (and ID thieves) are quite crafty at obtaining other information once they have a little bit. I believe the line the man at the bank used was “Ms. Sawyer, have you ever heard the term a little bit goes a long way…?” Uh huh.
3. Carefully review every single charge that has been made. This seems like a no-brainer, but down the line you will need to show verification for purchases–especially if your account has been completely compromised and large-scale money theft is involved.
4. If you are the victim of a purse theft in which case your entire wallet has gone missing, call your local DMV to discuss options about a new driver’s license. In my case, my purse wasn’t missing (and I actually still had all my cards), but this not-so-smart individual was booking airline tickets in my name and gallivanting around as me. Creepy.
5. Contact your credit bureau. Ask them to issue a fraud report and attach it to your name and credit report. This should save you hassle in the long run.
5a. Contact the FTC and file an Identity Theft Report that can help with credit reports down the line.
6. If you think you can pinpoint the individual or individual(s) who have claimed your identity as their own, you are able to press charges. Some banks will press these charges on your behalf so you don’t have to worry with lawyer fees, court, etc.
I’m sure there are countless other steps you can take and other tips to use, but these are some of the things that have helped me. Just like anything else, each case and every person is completely different. I just hope this can help someone out there who was feeling as helpless as I did.
Anddddd, now it’s time for a long weekend!