Identity theft gets personal

Posted by: Steve Hamm on May 23, 2006

The bad news came in a harmless looking package. It was a letter from Wells Fargo Home Mortgage informing me that a computer containing my name, address, social security number, and home loan number had gone missing and was presumed to be stolen. The bank apologized for the situation, offered me a free service that will alert me if suspicious activity turns up at credit reporting agencies, and gave me advice on how to protect myself from identity theft.

I had been aware of ID theft, of course. But being aware is one thing and knowing that a thief may be out there right now figuring out how to rip me off is another. It reminded me of how I felt after being shaken up in the Bay Area earthquake of 1989. For a long time after, the earth didn’t seem solid under my feet.

I went through applying all of the safety measures that Wells Fargo recommended, but one thing bothered me. In a Google News search, I saw what the theft of the computer had first been reported on May 5. Why did I not get a letter until May 22? A bank representative told me they spaced the notices out so their customer service call center wouldn’t be overwhelmed. That’s not a good enough reason. It gave the bad guys, potentially, a couple of weeks lead on me.

Now that I’m a wise person when it comes to identity theft, I want share awareness with others. Here are some useful Web pages:

The Federal Trade Commission’s Identity Theft Report
Identify Theft Resource Center

Reader Comments

Dave

May 23, 2006 5:43 PM

Steve, I received a similar letter from Scottrade a few months ago.

The shocking part of the letter is the hacker stole the information a month below the letter was written!

I requested they pay for the fees to alert me if suspicious activity turns up but they won't do it. This made me lose their business!

It was a pain to change all my bank accounts.

Russ N.

May 24, 2006 11:37 AM

Steve - got the same letter as you on the same day as you....I'm in the process off moving all my money to another institution.

You're right - way too long of a time between the theft and the notification. On the internet it can take minutes and we had weeks.

Carl A. LeBlanc

June 18, 2006 12:52 AM

Why do we only hear about the financial side of ID theft?

There are five areas:
1. Financial: credit cards and checking account...
2. Criminal or character
3. Medical info
4. Drivers license
5. Social Security

There will also be a need for legal assistance. Check out "PPD" ticker symbol on NYSE.

Carl

Mitchell B

August 16, 2006 10:31 PM

I can truly empathize with you. I have already had my SS number used to open a fraudulent bank account and I'm still waiting to see if the other shoe will drop. I know that in my own home I make use of Digital File Shredder (http://www.stompsoft.com/fileshredder.html) Pro to eliminate any documents on my PC that contain personal information. Though I suspect that my information was gained by a different avenue. I can only hope that businesses and other institutions take a harder stance when it comes to personal information.

Mitch

Scott

August 23, 2006 12:25 PM

If you're planning on changing your username to help protect your account don't bother. Your SSN will still be an active login after you make the change. I have complained about this security hole but they refuse to fix it.

Tony

November 9, 2006 8:09 PM

What's even scarier is that now that you are aware of the fact there are area's of identity theft that you won't be able to protect yourself from or even be aware of until it's too late. They aren't reported through credit repositories like financial identity theft which is what everyone hears about. The likes of employment identity theft, medical identity theft and character identity theft sneak under the radar. It's almost impossible these days to cover all of the "holes" in the "data based you." You can find out more on my blog. It's a shameless plug but you're ripe for the picking of I.D. theives right now and you need to have "something" more substantial in this war against identity theft than a slingshot.

David Arriaga

January 5, 2007 5:30 PM

My brother was a victim of identity theft and luckily he was using a restoration service and it saved him a lot time and money

David Besnette

March 3, 2007 10:43 AM

It is amazing how many 'mistakes' are made by big companies out there. My health insurance provider recently sent out a mailer with my account information on the label. Inside of the package, my ss# and other items were in there. Pretty much everything someone needed to steal my identity. The company sent out an apology letter for the revealing labels, but geez! This is serious stuff. I am quite shocked that I haven't had my identity tampered with yet (knock on wood!).

chad

March 26, 2007 2:06 PM

Identity theft affects around 10 million americans a year and will never cease

Check out my blog at

Ihatebull.com

Ken Teegardin

April 24, 2007 3:49 PM

This is good reason to use not use a debit card. If your number gets stolen, they can clean you out before you know it. It can also be a problem paying your other bills while the account is suspended. Credit cards do give more protection since they are a separate account.

Merritt

September 18, 2007 7:54 PM

Steve,

My mother received a letter from her healthcare provider about a security breach last fall sometime. If I remember correctly it was a similiar situation about a computer being stolen. They offered a similiar package to monitor her credit however it was rather obvious that this healthcare provider was no truly concerned with the potential negative impact on its clients. I feel that the company should have provided a lifetime of ID theft monitoring rather than jsut a year. From this point on she will always to we monitor her credit at a cost of over $100 a year due to their irresponsiblity. thanks

Dimitrios

October 3, 2007 12:13 PM

This is also a huge problem in Europe.

Dimitrios

http://identity-theft.resourcesandinfo.net

Tony Gerber

December 2, 2007 12:11 PM

I signed up for lifelock after getting two notices about my information being lost by two companies. You can sign up for free for one year.
Just click on this link and then click ENROLL NOW and type in the OFFER CODE: EMPLOYEE

http://beam.to/33sbny

jason ganson

February 20, 2008 2:51 PM

Google http://southdakotagov.info/ how the government does not prosecute identity theft. Senator Tim Johnson even notified authorities and still no prosecution. She has 7 social security numbers on her credit report used in opening illegal accounts, a open and shut case but State ignores the laws.

Keith Smith

April 5, 2008 12:07 AM

You might read “The Silent Crime” by Michael McCoy. He states that there are 5 major areas of identity theft and identity theft can’t be prevented. On page 191 he does a comparison of services. He states Pre-Paid Legal Services is “Most robust with complete restoration, credit monitoring and access to attorneys 24/7.” You can order the book here http://stolendata.blogspot.com/2007_04_01_archive.html and find out more about the service here http://www.keithdsmith.com

Richard Andrade

April 17, 2008 10:49 AM

There is a company called Kroll Background America they are the world's leading risk consulting company. They give you access to your credit report and give your credit score, provide contunious credit monitoring, and they also provide credit restoration services for all 5 types of Identity Theft.
1. Financial: credit cards and checking account...
2. Criminal or character
3. Medical info
4. Drivers license
5. Social Security

Prepaid Legal provides this coverage for more info visit www.prepaidlegal.com/hub/randrade click the identity theft shield.

Thank You

Tim Henry

May 24, 2008 11:47 AM

A recent report says on average it cost over $1600 to fix your identity once it has been compromised. Most people do not find out about the problem until it is way too late. A key to preventing this is to monitor your credit report. I get mine from Myjunktree. They not only helped me stop all my junk mail, but provide easy access to my free credit report from teh three major reporting agencies. They recommend that you obtain a new report every four months and they send me a reminder to order mine. I even found accounts open that I thought I had closed a long time ago. Great service.

Payday Loan Advocate

October 6, 2008 4:36 AM

One good thing about no fax payday loans is that you can sign up in the comfort of your home. A payroll advance lender can conveniently deposit funds directly into your current bank account and even take your payments automatically from that same account. That way, you can be out of town and still be able to receive money. With extra money from a low fee payday loan during a time of need, you can have less worry.

Payday Loan Advocate

October 6, 2008 5:28 AM

One good thing about no fax payday loans is that you can sign up in the comfort of your home. A payroll advance lender can conveniently deposit funds directly into your current bank account and even take your payments automatically from that same account. That way, you can be out of town and still be able to receive money. With extra money from a low fee payday loan during a time of need, you can have less worry.

biometric01

April 17, 2009 11:56 PM

Much has been discussed about Identity Theft, user ID's and Passwords stolen or hacked, credit cards being used without the owners knowledge and so on. Now there is a safe way of protecting your passwords and identity online from being copied, stolen and hacked by keyboard trojans, using your biometric fingerprint and face recognition, and even voice, to log on to web sites. By simply scanning your finger or face or voice you can log on to a web site, log on to your computer, and even encrypt files and folders. No more worrying about who might hack into your online accounts or even your email. No more remembering passwords or using the same passwords on many sites. This is an exciting new innovation from myBiodentity and they have about fourteen products that are enabled with biometrics including email encryption, password manager, virtual disk, and many more. You can read more at http://www.mybiodentity.com

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