Identity Theft

Yours truly discovered she is the victim of identity theft today. I opened up my mailbox and found a new debit card, a check card PIN, and a box of checks. I thought, what the? I didn’t order even more checks — I just got a box! I opened the box and looked at the account number. It wasn’t my account number. I have had the same bank account since 1997. I have the number memorized, which (unlike my dad, and regrettably so) is not usual for me.

I called the bank, and they verified that $1000 had been transferred from my account to this new one. The customer service representative was even able to tell me the e-mail address that was connected to the account — an Earthink address — not even one of those easy to get and then abandon web mail accounts! I was thinking why was this person smart enough to hijack my bank account, but not smart enough to be a little more circumspect about doing it?

What a headache. I was on the phone with my bank for more than a half hour I think. Ultimately, I talked with a bank representative who was very helpful, as his wife had been a fraud victim as well. He told me everything I need to do, but since it’s the weekend, lots of it has to wait until Monday. That’s really good for keeping the OCD at bay. I need to find out if my landlord has deposited our rent check. If he has, that could delay clearing this up until that clears. If he hasn’t, then I can completely close my account and give him a cashier’s check or money order to replace the other check. What a mess.

It would seem that I’m not alone in this. Makes me wish I’d never heard of online banking. But still… I think the article is right. Why aren’t banks doing things to make online banking more secure? It is such a convenience, but it is not worth this sort of hassle.

This is what you need to do if it happens to you. My ex-husband told me some very scary information. There is a vulnerability in Internet Explorer that allows hackers to get information you type, keylogging programs, and gain access to your online credit/debit/checking account transactions, thus steal your money. He told me to check out Kim Komando’s site, and her current newsletter has information about a Trojan horse that is hijacking browsers. Want to see if you are vulnerable? Run this test. Kim says she was vulnerable even after installing the IE patch. I ran the test again after installing the patch, and like Kim, I discovered I was still vulnerable to attack. She recommends using Firefox or only keeping one window open at a time. And here I am, Miss I-Like-to-Keep-a-Horde-of-Windows-Open. I even set all my links to open in new windows automatically, because I hate losing my place when I look at links in other people’s web sites. Kim Komando is right: IE has got to be completely refurbished. But why should Microsoft bother when 95% of the people on the web use it? They have no serious competition, and they know it. Bill Gates is probably the antichrist.

What really bothers me is that people do this with no compunction about it. They don’t care that they’re screwing someone over. Welcome to the Real World, right? Well, I’m sorry if it’s idealistic to think that we should be able to live our lives without someone trying to take everything we’ve got.

So on my to-do list:

  1. Find out what my landlord did with that check.
  2. Call the three credit bureaus to report the fraud.
  3. Call the Federal Trade Commission.
  4. File a police report.
  5. Call Earthlink and tell them what their customer did. Not sure what good it will do aside from make me feel better.
  6. Try to quit worrying about this, because it will most likely be okay in the end.

This reminds me of a nightmare I had a couple of years ago. In it, I discovered that a group of people was involved in criminal activity. I found their web site, and I could see them. Then I saw their leader look up, as though he knew they’d been found. He looked right at me from the computer screen and told me that he knew where I was, and they were coming to kill me.

I think the biggest thing that crime takes from any of us (any kind of crime) is our sense of security. I know I shouldn’t be as upset as I am about it. After all, I knew something fishy was going on. Someone stole my debit card number way back in April. I just thought this was all over after that card was canceled, and I got a new one. And honestly, it could have been much worse. I guess I just feel sort of, well, vulnerable is the best word. I hate that feeling. It almost makes this understandable.

Posted in IT

2 thoughts on “Identity Theft

  1. Wow. I'm glad you caught it so quickly. It's a good thing the person was smart enough to steal your info, but dumb enough to use a traceable email address and to have the new account info sent to your house. Good luck with getting Equifax to straighten it out — they're a bunch of putzes.

  2. Dang! Wish someone would steal my identity…they can have all the debts and empty bank accounts!

    Seriously, that is a problem, I am just glad that you were attentive and caught it in time…

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