Of the many identity theft stories out there, I would like to add my own to the archives. It all starts very simply. You get your credit card bill and it’s ridiculously high. So, you start to sift through the list:
Manhattan Mini Storage……………………………$91. Check.
Dinner at super delish Italian restaurant……$34. Check.
Department store I’ve never been to…………$2,200. WTF?!
Then you call the credit card company to tell them you didn’t make that super-large purchase in a town nowhere near where you live. The next step is a so-called “fraud specialist” who puts you into a corporate whirlwind of signed documents, conversations with supervisors and an assurance that you will not be held responsible, pending an investigation. It seems like it should end right there. But it doesn’t.
For me, the thieves easily opened another credit card in my name. But without a photo ID to verify the card, each time a purchase was attempted, a call was made from yet another retailer.
“This is Tom from Goodyear Tire calling to confirm a $636 purchase of four tires this morning.”
“You’ve been had, Tom. I don’t even own a car.”
Next was a call from a salesperson while the fake me was still standing right there.
“Hi, this is Rebecca from Zales. Can we confirm a $1,600 jewelry purchase?”
“No, you may not, Rebecca. Am I standing right there now?”
“Great. That is a thief, Rebecca. Please take her picture or ask for photo ID or call the police, but do SOMETHING!”
I was so pleased with myself that I caught the scum in the midst of the crime. Surely, Rebecca did as I suggested and called the cops, ending this charade. But the next phone call I received took me by surprise.
“Is this Miss Lawrence?”
“This is Officer Murray from the 65th precinct. I was put on your credit card theft case after you reported it stolen.” (I hadn’t.) “We think we’ve caught the perpetrators, but to be sure, we’d like to catch them in the act.”
“Ummm. Hmmm,” I say, letting Officer Murray continue even though I could clearly hear traffic and street noise in the background. I looked at my caller ID. It was a New Jersey number, which I Googled just as “Officer Murray” continued to convince me he was on the case.
“So, the next time you get a call asking if someone is making a purchase, just let it go through. Don’t worry; we’ll be there to catch them,” he assured. Is he serious? Was he really asking me to allow my identity to be stolen with no questions asked?
“What precinct did you say you were from?”
“47th.” He said confidently, forgetting he had just told me it was the 65th.
“And what is the phone number at your precinct?”
He realized I was on to him, so he hung up. However, I now had his cell phone number as well as the address attached to it according to Google.
Even if he could’ve convinced me that a cop would ever say so many stupid things to a fraud victim, I at least knew that the call was a scam because I hadn’t reported anything to the police.
That was about to change. I grabbed his number, address and the name attached to it and ran to my local precinct to file a report. “Here he is. Go get him!” I told the detective.
I’m not sure if they ever did “get him,” but, my fraud case was closed and I never had to pay any of the fraudulent charges. I’d like to say that was the end of that, but his address is still inexplicably linked to my credit report. It doesn’t affect me except when I try to open a clothing store credit card. But then I remember how Adele’s credit card was declined at H&M and I feel better about it.