Friday, May 16, 2008

Public Service announcement

The last story was funny, even if it happened to me.

This one, not so much. Consider this a public service announcement.

Since the end of April, we have been navigating the maze that is identity theft. Yes folks, ID theft. I wish it was as simple as someone stole my wallet, and used my info. It is not. This is one of those cases featured in shows like Twilight zone. At least it feels like I'm on the twilight zone. Some of you have heard most of the story. Now it's the rest of the story.

Since this is a LONG story, I'll give you the gist of it.
  • Bank statement arrives in the mail. While checking it, I find out that there are charges there I don't recognize. I asked husband if he made those, he doesn't know where they came from either. Charges are made by and, never heard of either nor have procured their services.
  • I bank with a local bank in my town, and since I work in Jackson, husband went to the bank to report it (account is in both of our names). Bank person tells him the charges were made using my debit card information so I have to report it in person before they can reverse the charges.
  • My debit card was still in my wallet. It was not physically stolen, someone stole the name and numbers off the card, and I still had the card. Bizarre.
  • Took time off work to go to the bank and report the incident. I gave the bank person a letter with my signature saying these charges were fraudulent, I did not authorize them, someone has stolen my info. Bank person tells me they will credit the account and investigate. If the investigation shows the charges are legitimate, they will take the credit back. I'm certain the charges are not legitimate because I did not make them. I also had them cancel the debit card to avoid any future charges. I leave the bank in good spirits, thinking their investigation will reveal who stole and use the info.
  • In the meantime, I called EAuction (their 800 # was on the bank statement). They tell me I bought some sort of websearch system from them. That was NOT me but they have my name and debit card on their system. They cancel the account and supposely mark it as FRAUD. What they forgot to tell me is yet ANOTHER charge was made to the account just the day before I called them. bastards.
  • I tried to find a number for Skype but was not successful. I sent a message thru their website, asking for a phone number where I can properly report the fraud to them. 10 days later, I received an email asking that I send them the debit card number so they can tag the account as fraud. As if I'm going to fall for that one! and no phone number to contact them.
  • Letter arrives from the bank telling me their investigation revealed the charges are legitimate. EXCUSE ME??? They have asked the "merchant" and they said it was legitimate so they are taking the credit back. WHAT?? Letter is on plain white paper and not even signed. Considering these people handle MY money, I expect a letter on letterhead and with a signature.
  • In case you haven't noticed, by this point, there are flames coming out of my mouth and ears. Not only is the bank's letter less than professional, it offers no insight on the supposed investigation. That's when I decided to do some research on my own. I came across a website ( where people from all over the country have similar complaints about these two companies. Apparently, this is not an isolated incident.
  • I also went to the MS Attorney General's website and found information as to what to do now. Filed a complaint with the Federal Trade Commission, with the Attorney General, and visited the local police department. They still are not sure how to file the report since this crime is a cybercrime and I have no clue who stole the information. Still talking to police investigators and won't give up until a formal complaint is filed.
  • As for the bank, they received a rather lengthy letter from me, retelling the story and asking for copies of all documents generated during the investigation. These are the documents supposely used to arrive to the conclusion the charges were legitimate.

I still have no debit card, because the new one I have applied for hasn't arrived. Still nothing has been resolved by the bank, and these people have gotten my money, to the tune of $150. I hope no one has to go thru this. I thought these things could only happen if you banked online (I don't) or if my wallet was stolen. Apparently thieves these days are experts at stealing your money without you even noticing.