Monday, September 29, 2008

You can't take it with you, but apperently that's not an issue...Just place your order from the great beyond.

Identity theft is an insidious noxious act.

Though much can be said about an individual by looking at their credit history, a person is so much more than their credit score and their identifying stats. If only the thieves that steel peoples identities could keep that in mind. The havoc created by a person stealing such personal information is almost unimaginable. For the most part the burden is placed on the individual to safe guard their own credit information. The three credit reporting agencies will put a temporary fraud alert on your account for up to 90 days...but you have to remember to call back when the 90 days are up to put the alert back on. Once criminals start using your identity the real fun starts. Even if the agencies have your account blocked due to identity theft, if credit is issued fraudulently by institutions that don't check your report, you have to document and support each claim as to why you aren't responsible. Each incident then needs to be reported to your local law enforcement office as well. While you are disputing the fraud your credit is going down the toilette...and it can take years to clear it up.

It is depressing business navigating the whole rigmarole. At some point most people have to give their private information (name, social security number, telephone number, address, even mother's maiden name)to secure loans, mortgages, credit, etc. It is not possible to protect yourself completely from this terrible crime. There are steps to reduce the likely hood of becoming a victim, but the reality is that your bank has your information, (unless your one of those people who keep your life savings in a mattress) your mortgage lender has it (if you own your own home) along with various credit institutions servicing a car loan or credit cards.

After being contacted by my mortgage lender, I received the special pleasure of being informed that there was a possibility that both my identity and that of my deceased husband may have been stolen and sold by an employee. So now the fun begins.

My mortgage company trying to mitigate the fallout over the actions of their miscreant employee, offered a free credit monitoring service for 2 years. I signed up right away not even giving a thought that my husbands name was still technically on the mortgage. (Due to the fees and paperwork involved I hadn't bothered to inform them of his passing.) This turned out to be a twisted blessing in disguise. His name being listed first on the account made him the initial target for the identity theft.

Ten days after I had received notification from the mortgage company, I received in 1 day over 15 phone calls from online insurance sites, online degree programs, along with local car dealerships informing me that they were calling in response to my husbands interest in these various products and services. It was jarring to continuously receive calls from these people telling me they had received e mail from my husband regarding his interest in xy or z. I was so irate over these impersonations. How dare these people try to steel services from people in his name and impugn his credit. And the phone calls were just like rubbing salt in a wound. I woke up every morning thinking I wonder how many times I am going to have to say "My husband's dead." today. So after rushing off copies of his death certificate and social security number to all 3 Credit Reporting Agencies to officially declare him dead I think I can finally put this, as well as my husband to rest (again).