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Reporting fraud / identity theft

I was going to write about something else today, but as the last two days have been busy for me dealing with identity theft, I'll give you the benefit of what I have learned.

Recently I received notification that some suspicious charges were place on my credit card. I called the credit card company (CCC). The CCC closed that account and sent out new cards.

We received the new cards one week later. Lo, and behold, we received a card for someone who should not have one, I'll call him "Bob". I again called the CCC. We were told that on the original day I was notified about the charges, "Bob" had called the CCC, passed all of the security questions, and put himself on the card. "Bob" apparently had information that I guard rather carefully.

So here is what I have learned about recovering from this: 1. Call the Credit Card Company as quickly as possible when you become aware of suspicious activity on your account.

2. You can put a verbal password on your Credit Card Account - I recommend choosing something that only the authorized cardholders would know. This will prevent people like "Bob" from doing anything to the account without the verbal password.

3. The CCC may give you additional companies/services to call - do so. They may even have a Victim's Assistance Unit to help you out.

4. Use this US Federal service as a resource to know what you should do.

5. Call any banking institution you may have and put a verbal password on your account.

6. Call your mortgage company to notify them of the theft. They may or may not be able to put a verbal password on your account, but can at least tell you if any changes were made.

7. Call at least one credit bureau and request an alert on your account. Equifax 800-525-6285, Experian 888-397-3742, TransUnion 800-680-7289. You can get a free credit report.

8. Go online to place a security alert with The Chex Systems, Inc. "This is a network is comprised of member financial institutions that regularly contribute information on closed checking and savings accounts. ChexSystems shares this information among its member institutions to help them assess the risk of opening new accounts. ChexSystems does not make account opening decisions for its members. Account opening decisions are made by the member institutions based on their internal policies."

9. Go online to the FTC to report identity theft.

10. Don't forget to notify your police department / sheriff's office. They may need a statement from your CCC showing fraudulent charges (they could subpoena the CCC, but it is smoother if you could give it to them).

11. Notify any investment companies you may work with. Some are able to set up a system where anyone like "Bob" would be routed from the head office back to your advisor, who presumabaly knows you.

12. All of this is quite a process, so you will want to keep notes about who you called, when, phone numbers, what you did, etc.

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