I have had defend many things in life. Beliefs, family members, girlfriends, animals. One thing I have never had to defend was my identity; until recently.
It was a lazy Sunday where I never left the couch. Laptop, coffee and the remote control were tools of the day. I had just returned home from a wonderful vacation in Savannah Georgia. I have spent little time in the deep south was quickly won over by southern charm, manners and polite demeanor. If only everyone I encounter in life had the same kind disposition. I decided to log on to my online bank account and take stock of my vacation expenses. Upon accessing my account the balance did not seem to be a number I thought it should. Upon further investigation I began seeing large amounts of money taken out of my account at places I had never been. A car parts store, child’s clothing store, liquor store all in Parsipinny New Jersey. I cant even spell Par*** let alone having been there. My heart immediately went into my throat as I continued down the online account with thousands of dollars in purchases that I knew nothing about. I immediately got up from the couch to get my wallet. And there it was….the credit card for which all these charges were attributed to. It was in my possession so how could this happen. I immediately called my credit card company and explained the situation. They informed me that these purchases were all online. Somehow the thief got a hold of my credit card number (possibly from a previous transaction) and created a credit card to use. I was sincerely dumbfounded. I have not lived a “Pollyanna” life but was absolutely sickened and angry that someone would have the nerve and moxie to steal from me and expect not to get caught. The credit card company asked if I would like to press charges while they did an investigation. I honestly wanted to question the stores security cameras and investigate this myself. However it was in the hands of the police for now and the best thing i could do was to move on. Or could I? A few days later, once again in my email was a note “Congratulating me” on my new appliance purchase. However I did not buy any appliances as of late or at all seeing as it I am a renter in my apartment. No sooner did I see the welcome appliance email did I see another email increasing my credit limit and introduction to a new credit and its privileges. Someone was creating a new identity for themselves with my information and finances. I was angry, sad and scared all the same time. After weeks of research and clean up I got my ‘life” up to date but not without a scare as I will now monitor current activity.
There are a few measures that you can take to prevent identity and account theft. Technology is becoming more and more advanced and the ability to keep up and thwart such an identity attack is changing day by day.
1) If you are going out of town tell your bank to check with you on large purchases. Some banks already do this and will reach out on their own but make a record of when you will be where and what the purpose is.
2) Sign up for text alerts from your bank. I have mine set to reach out to me should a purchase larger in nature be made.
3) If you log onto a public computer or the computer of someone you don’t know make sure you delete the cookies and cache in the web browser.
Having your identity stolen can scare up all types of emotions in you. Follow the institutions your bank or credit card company gives you and be vigilant in protecting yourself.