Have You Ever Had Your Identity Stolen?

Updated on November 14, 2011
J.P. asks from Sugar Land, TX
14 answers

What would you do, in hindsight, to prevent stolen identity?
Before I pay for an outside party to alert me of suspicious activity
on my SS #, which I am about to do, please share with me
what you have learned. I, myself, am careful about discarding
any papers with SS# or financial info on them and any
pre-approved credit card offers. Do I really need to shred
inactive credit card statments and bank accounts? Can I just
chunk them?
Thanks for any effort.

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answers from St. Louis on

A database was attacked that held my mortgage. There was nothing I could do to prevent it.

It has now become my joke, someone stole my identity and even they didn't want it. :p

I have a credit monitoring service through a credit card.

4 moms found this helpful

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answers from Sacramento on

I agree with the others- SHRED EVERYTHING! No matter how old the account, they can re-activate it or use the information to open more accounts. I had a friend once who threw away a box of unused checks on a bank account he had closed years ago. Someone found the checks and began using them. Because he had moved, the bank couldn't locate him and it affected his credit adversely. It took him months to straighten everything out.

Rather than paying a service, contact the three big credit reporting agencies- Experian, TransUnion and Equifax and request a Fraud Alert be placed on your information. The Alerts expire so you need to calendar a reminder to yourself to renew them. Anyone who tries to apply for credit using your information will be asked a series of questions only you should know- like Who do you pay your mortgage to and how much is it? Do you have a balance on your gas card?, stuff like that.

I had renewed my Fraud Alert shortly before shopping at JC Pennys once. I wanted to take advantage of the additional discount for a new account. The employee got a strange look on her face when the person she'd called to get the line of credit going asked to speak to me. I was asked several questions to verify my identity and the last question was, "Do you know why I am asking you all these questions?". I told him it was probably due to the Fraud Alert I'd placed on my credit reports. He thanked me and allowed the credit to go through.

You cannot be too safe these days. I know shredding is a pain but its so much better than trying to repair your credit.

4 moms found this helpful


answers from Washington DC on

Shred everything. They can get enough information from various pieces.

When you cut up a credit card? put it in an envelope and put it piece by piece in several weeks - I know it sounds complicated - but it's worth it.

I don't know who you bank with - but many banks do offer the credit reporting check/update. Pay for that instead of going to an outside source.

You can monitor all of this yourself. Companies make money off the hysteria. Why not just do this yourself? If you have a credit card - look at the statement each and every month.

When a "credit card company" calls you and asks for information. Pull out your card and call the company # on the back of the card. NEVER give out information that they SHOULD have. You can verify the last 4 of your SSN. If they don't like that - YOU CALL THEM.

Ensure the "lock" is on when you pay on-line for things. or that it is https: the "s" is secure.

Good luck

4 moms found this helpful


answers from Baton Rouge on

I have had my identity stolen and to this day, I have no idea how it happened. I shredded or burned anything with any kind of identifying number on it. I didn't loan out my debit card. And one morning when I checked my bank balance, I had a $2000 overdraft because someone in another state had gone on a shopping spree using my checking account. It took months to get everything straightened out.

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answers from Seattle on

Never my identity, just a credit card once. Not sure how but it's one with the bank so they alerted me pretty quickly and told me that someone was at Macy's and charged over $500 worth of clothes, and then filled their gas tank and treated themselves to an expensive dinner. It was pretty crazy.

Thankfully I have an amazing bank that took care of the paperwork and all that drama.

Now, I more carefully shed Anything that has my name on it, especially bank stuff, and past accounts on anything. Can never be too careful!

3 moms found this helpful


answers from Dallas on

I would shred everything to be careful. That being said, I don't think you need a monitoring company. When my sister's identity was stolen she was able to set something up with the credit agencies that she was unable to open instant credit cards, like they do at most department stores. She would have to take extra steps to open these cards. It helped a lot. It was a hassle for her if she wanted a store card, but this is the most common way people obtain credit in someone elses name. That's how her's was stolen and they were able to do it without her SS#. The positive was that she didn't have all these store credit cards and she wasn't tempted to use them and rack up more debt.

3 moms found this helpful


answers from Lakeland on

I had someone use my credit card while it was in my possession but not my identity. Now that everything is on the web (even if you don't use it for banking) it makes it easier for thieves to get your info. They don’t just get it from you using it, they can hack into banks and other sites to get it.
I shred anything with an account and/or our names. I also read through my statements every month and make sure I remember the purchases.

3 moms found this helpful


answers from Phoenix on

I won't pay for a monitoring service. To me, it's another way to get money from us. Our SS should already be protected by the Government in my opinion.
I won't name the bank, but I noticed on mine and my husband's bank account "twice" that someone charged my checking account two charges of the same amount. It was a company called Bare Essentials. I called them and told them about it and that I wasn't the one receiving the items and that someone is fraudulently charging on my account. I called my bank and it took them 45 days to reissue my money to me. Since it happened twice to my account, I closed my account with them.
I have had someone fraudulently charge something on one of my credit cards, and I disputed it, it took a while for them to do their thing and credit my card back, but then I noticed it again, and I closed my account with them. They had even issued me a new account number too. So, with both of those, to me, it seemed like someone on the inside was shady and stealing from the customers.
It's all pretty scary out there now charging on our cards, and doing online shopping etc. Our info is out there for the taking. We have to be careful of what we charge, and keep on top of everything we purchase. Now you can pay bills from your cell and I think that is worse that paying online on your computer because of the GPS tracking on the phones etc. Technology is great, but some of it is sure making it easy for the hackers and thieves to steal our identity.

Shred everything that has your personal accounts, ss numbers, etc. on them. Cut up all credit cards that you close on, and put them in different trash cans so that the thieves cannot piece them back together again. Even old checking account info and checks that you have closed on. Shred them. Thieves can get to that info and know where you've last lived and use that info as well to obtain new credits etc.

I have never had my identity stolen and I feel for those who have. It takes a toll on them for sure.

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Charlotte on

Are you talking about Life Lock? I've heard bad things about them.

Shread ANYTHING with your sensitive info. Why would you allow it to just go into the trash? It's easy to shread it.

Check your credit reports twice a year to see if everything is on the up and up. Never tell anyone who calls you any of your information. Never click on a link that anyone sends you, including emails from a bank that asks you to click. There's one that is going around that purports itself to be from Chase Bank, saying that there is irregular activity going on in your bank account. It's called "phishing". If you want to know if something is REALLY from the bank or institution, google them and go to their homepage and find phishing or something like that on their site. I found the exact same email copied there, with Chase saying it was bogus, and not to click on it.

Be careful about paying someone about the SS# - I don't think that's a good idea.


2 moms found this helpful


answers from San Diego on

I do pay for a monitoring service. It's 30 per month for my husband and I. I think they just raised it so that it will be 32 per month. But it's nice to know that we will be notified with anything that posts.

One time when we were about to buy a house, there was a LOT of things on my husbands report that did not belong to us. It caused a huge headache last minute to get the loan through. My husbands report was accidentally merged with a man that has almost the same name. What's strange is that they were both born in Iowa. They both worked at Hallmark Cards in the 80's and 90's. The other man is an attorney. So sometimes we get credit card offers for rediculous HIGH amounts that are meant for attorneys!

Anyway, this man is 2 years younger than my husband and we have even drove the same cars at times. It's strange. It would be easy for either of these guys to mess with each other because it's happened off and on for years. We just never realized why or what was happening until the time that EVERYTHING they both had ended up on both reports with 2 DIFFERENT social security #'s at the top. They apparently thought it was one man with 2 #'s.

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Chicago on

I wrote a check for payment (to the state for a ticket). I, being naive and trusting, I guess, placed the envelope with my check in the mailbox overnight with the flag up so the mailman would take it the next day. I didn't want to forget in the morning and was too lazy, apparently, to find a blue mailbox.

Anyways....of course it got taken and washed and rewritten. My original check was for $75 and they rewrote it for $1050. Yikes. I didn't know until I asked my husband what he bought for so much money without discussing it with me first.

I was using the checks with a copy sheet under it so I could prove to the police the check I wrote was not the one cashed. They took my report, but nothing ever came of it. The person who rewrote my check wrote "for baby and food" in the subject line so my hope is she was desperate and at least was able to provide something for her baby - although it could have been drugs too - who knows. I obviously closed that checking account immediately.

I did get the 4 credit bureaus to notify me of anyone applying for anything on my credit. The deal was they had to call my home number (I didn't have a cell at the time - this was a while ago) to get my approval before anything could go through. So here I am in Best Buy, trying to get that cell phone and I'm being denied because they said they couldn't verify my identity. Well, it was a catch-22 because if I'm trying to buy something for myself I'm obviously not going to be home. Maybe now it would be easier if they have your cell on file instead of home number. It's impossible to get it taken off - so much red tape and no one to talk to. And it lasts for 5 years. Luckily we didn't have to buy anything substantial in that time frame. I would not recommend this unless you feel you are being targeted specifically.

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Dallas on

Yes an 12 years later I am still dealing with it. Shred/burn all of that which you currently do. There was a lot to do. I had to deal with police (and battling forces when a store owner caught the guy and called me and the police and they argued over who should go get him and he got away. Make sure of the jurisdiction when you file) and the treasury department I don't know if you still have to do both.
I am not sure if you can do it if you have not had a problem but when it does happen you need to file a police report. The credit agencies will give you a free copy of your credit report but *only* if you have a case number from a police report or the copy of the report. When you ask for the report they give you a fraud alert for that time. After that you can request in writing to have them put a 7 year fraud alert on your credit reports. When the 7 years is up if you want to continue to have to again put it in writing and ask for the next 7 years.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from San Francisco on

No. People I know who did get their identity stolen had their homes broken into - so it wasn't a surprise. I wouldn't pay for a service to monitor my SS# - sounds like a scam. Did something happen to you?

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Chicago on

My sister did and it is a nightmare. We use Privacy guard which monitors all 3 credit reports and let's us know if there is any activity at all on our reports.

It is worth it to me to not go through what my sister has.

1 mom found this helpful
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