When Maureen Fulton returned home that day, she listened to that message and also saw on her caller ID that Macy’s had called her 4 times before actually leaving the message. Suspicious, Maureen Googled the number the Macy’s representative had left.
It was a legitimate Macy’s number.
Her heart pounding, Maureen called back. . .and learned that someone had opened a Macy’s credit card that day in her name and attempted to charge $1,600, but Macy’s was suspicious, so they declined the charges.
Thanks to Macy’s diligence and that phone call, Maureen Fulton discovered that she had been a victim of identity fraud. Luckily, the fraud had been caught within 3 days, but the thieves had already attempted to charge $21,000 (though they only successfully spent $16,000). The thieves opened 12 accounts in her name.
How Could This Happen?
Fulton was diligent in protecting her identity. She shredded paperwork with personal information and was very careful about giving out her social security number. However, no matter how careful a consumer is, there are still ways thieves can get the information such as buying social security numbers online. (Thanks to many recent database breaches such as those at Target or Michael’s, this information is readily available for a fairly low price.)
The Long Clean Up Process
Fulton contacted each of the three credit bureaus and was able to discover what other lines of credit had been opened. She then had to contact each of those businesses to let them know that she did not open the line of credit and that she had been a victim of identity fraud.
She also had to call the police and file a police report.
Fulton kept a notebook documenting every call that she made, what day and time the call was made as well as the outcome. She highly recommends that other victims of identity fraud do the same thing because it can be easy to lose track of the many calls one has to make.
Cleaning up an identity theft can take quite a long time (Maureen has already spent close to 30 hours so far); it is much easier to freeze your credit or sign up for a protection program before the theft can occur.