Friday, April 23, 2010

Identity Theft

In 2009, Identity Theft was the #1 consumer complaint with more than 1.3 million victims. This accounts for 21% of the total complaints.
source: Federal Trade Commission {}

Yesterday I received an odd call from someone saying they " in the back office of a law firm and needed contact information for my 'Attorney of Record' for a case filed against me for an unpaid loan."

He recited my name, home address, and telephone number and advised this was all on record as the person who applied for the loan through "PayDayUSA", a paperless loan company. He even provided me with a Case File number but when I pressed to verify that I was the correct person; he advised he couldn't share any other information with me. There was a significant language barrier too as his accent was thick and I could also hear a great deal of background noise with personal cells ringing, other people talking; it wasn't very professional.
But here's the tricky part: he never asked for personal information other than "my Attorney of Record" contact information. He advised they already have my Social Security Number on file as it was required for the loan.
I advised that if PayDayUSA was paperless, then he should have my e-mail address on file. The address he provided had a questionable domain and I haven't been able to find it Online since the call.
And NO, I never provided him any information at all and was stern in advising that he couldn't validate that he was a verifiable company and not a " Phisher"; and told him that he never provided any information he couldn't easily find on the Internet or in the White Pages. He stayed on the phone surprisingly and said something to effect that he'd write in my file that I was "uncooperative."

My problem now is that I don't know if:
1) This "back office of a law firm" is simply phishing for information
2) Perhaps someone really did apply for an Online loan using my identity.
What I did:
  1. Immediately I went to the Federal Trade Commission Website to find information on obtaining my free credit reports Did you know that there is only ONE Website that the government authorizes for free credit reports? It's . We've probably all seen those Free Credit Report Websites...I'm glad I checked the government Website first to find the authorized site!
  2. I'm ashamed to say I've never exercised my right to the free annual report until yesterday. But I pulled 2 of the 3 reports Online {for some reason Equifax must be requested via mail}. After obtaining my Credit Reports, I reviewed my accounts and didn't see any suspicious activity or negative credit items; I also reviewed the credit inquiries as well.
  3. I called Equifax and placed a Fraud Alert on my account for an extra add of protection against identity theft. This will remain in place for 90 days and then I'll continue to review my credit to ensure there's nothing suspicious. Did you know you only have to call one of the 3 credit reporting companies {for instance, when I notified Equifax, they automatically alert Experian AND TransUnion for me- yay!}
  4. I also called my personal Bank to place additional security measures; I advised them of the call and had to go in-person to make arrangements but it was well worth the trip.
  5. If you have other lines of credit open, make sure to alert them and monitor them frequently. I'm personally conservative about opening any line of credit anyway...but for my identity protection, I'll leave it at that!

Make sure to visit the FTC's Website and links on Identity Theft: Their mantra is to- Deter Detect Defend I've visited the site years before and regularly practice the methods to minimize my risk of identity theft...and apparently it's still an issue I have to deal with.

From my personal assessment "The Morning After", I believe this to have been a Phishing Phone Call. I specifically asked to speak with a supervisor in the firm and was advised that they would call me back; it hasn't happened yet... My credit history remains the same and I also didn't see any suspicious credit inquiries on my reports, nor did I see any odd activity with my personal Bank.

So for now, I'm thankful for conservative financial practices, shredding documents {especiallly after taxes & ridding of obsolete docs}, a watchful eye, and financial institutions who add alerts additional forms of protection and free credit reports!

If you have any additional tips, please feel free to add.


The Penter Family said...

I literally went straight to Equifax AND Trans Union to check mine and Camron's credit reports, after reading this post. I try to do it every year... but I think it has almost been TWO years since the last time I checked it. Fortunatley, we are in the clear. Thanks for the reminder!

{Amanda} said...

For good measure!

It would be very frustrating to have your credit tarnished by an ID thief...hopefully right now I have protective measures in place to prevent it.

charm home said...

Wow. These people are getting brave. Glad you were smart enough to not give any personal info out. Identity theft is so scary. I've had so many friends become victims of it. Hopefully you'll be ok now since you've taken so many precautions. xo, Cristi

{Amanda} said...

Thanks Cristi, it is amazing how bold they were! I've still not received a call-back so I'm guessing it was just a Phisher who was surfing random white-pages.

Tiffany Norris said...

Scary! Thanks for the heads-up, and I hope you don't hear anything else about it.

{Amanda} said...

Yep, thanks Tiff- still no further word. And I'm watching things like a hawk ;)