Reporting credit fraud is a story about one of my experiences with credit fraud.
Our experiences are good tools to help others learn about those things that they have not experienced.
Here is my reporting credit fraud experience. Hope there is much to learn here.
This experience was a few years back, but still has pertinent information and ideas to combat credit fraud.
My day of reporting a credit fraud started with opening my email and finding an email from Mint.com alerting me to an overdrawn account.
If you are not familiar with the service, it is one of the many that monitors your finances. You load all your information into the service and they supply you with alerts to suspicious activity and a statement of usual activity once a month.
The account Mint was alerting me is a well supplied checking account that is backed up by one of my savings accounts.
If I am overdrawn on my checking, it accessed my savings to keep me from incurring fees.
As you might think I was in instant alarm. I had previously joined Mint at the beginning of the year as I had seen many recommendations from leading authorities that it was a good service.
Yet at the time I was hesitant to load all the information they wanted me to load into their system.
As the year went by I kept seeing recommendations for Mint and decided to give them a REAL try. Am i glad I did! I check my accounts pretty regularly but sometimes a week or more may go by if I get too busy.
That won't happen again, but with a service like Mint you have an extra layer of protection.
When I opened that email it alerted me to a 683.00 shortage in my account. Well my eyeballs were popping out and my head was spinning!
I was telling myself to be calm and not hyperventilate. Most stories that I had heard about credit fraud and reporting missing funds, were that if the reporting credit fraud is done quickly, you lose nothing. That is exactly how it went.
When I checked my account on line I found two checks that weren't written out by myself and it was obvious that I hadn't written them!
There was not even any attempt to duplicate my signature. The information on the checks were all correct even the numbers of the checks. They were only 6-7 checks ahead of where I actually was in the check count.
I had in my possession the numbered checks they duplicated, not yet used, affirming they were fraudulent.
So I spent the time at the bank changing my account and later to the police reporting the credit fraud.
In between the two visits I kept thinking how did these people get my information? I do not use the checks to this account that often.
My research on skimming has let me know that business owners that are quite reputable can still have employees that are not.
So that is where my thinking went that day.
On the way home I remembered an incident back in May of that year.
A recipient of one of my checks cashed one of my checks at her bank. I don't know why they didn't scan and send the information of a cashed check to the federal reserve, but they bundle them up and a courier takes them to their next destination.
Thankfully since then most checks are now handled digitally!
Well that courier was attacked and his bundle was stolen. This is how my information got into the hands of these people and possibly distributed.
Another incident at the time which may not be related, is the day after the first check got cashed, I got a phishing text message on my phone (my phone number is printed on my checks.) Maybe that practice should now be avoided.
The message sent said that my credit union debit card had a pending alert and I needed to call the toll free number (that wasn't toll free at all,) to follow instructions to resolve the alert.
Banks and credit unions do not communicate important messages this way.
What continued to worry me is that this could of very well not been the end of my reporting credit fraud troubles.
There are underground websites that sell this information.
I'm wondering if it stays somewhere and they continue their efforts to piece the rest of the information they need to open accounts, get medical attention, cell phones and a host of other things you need to worry about when your information has been compromised.
What I learned, and was reinforced in my reporting credit fraud experience, was that you can not have enough protection when it comes to credit fraud.
Monitoring accounts yourself is a necessary action that MUST be done regularly.
The addition of any services that help you cannot hurt.
We cannot protect ourselves from all credit fraud attacks but we can minimize what they can do and fight back with vigilance and quick reporting of credit fraud.