Identity theft.

Discussion in 'After Hours Lounge (Off Topic)' started by Paul McElligott, Jun 24, 2003.

  1. Paul McElligott

    Paul McElligott Cinematographer

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    Paul McElligott
    I have been hit twice with identity theft this year. Someone has used my name and SSN to open cell phone accounts with two different companies. I've gotten hit with a bill for more than $800 from Sprint and last night T-Mobile called because they suspected someone had opened a fraudulent account in my name (they were right).

    Tips:

    Check your credit reports to see who is making inquiries and what accounts are open in your name. Make sure you recognize all of them.

    If you detect indentity fraud, call the major credit reporting agencies (I'll post numbers when I have them handy) and have a fraud alert placed on your credit report. This will alert people to be extra careful about demanding proof of identity before letting people open accounts in your name.

    If I ever decide to switch cell phone companies, T-Mobiles first crack over Sprint, if only for their more proactive approach to fraud prevention.
     
  2. BrettB

    BrettB Producer

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    Sorry to hear about your troubles. Also, good advice, you can never be too careful.

    Sincerely,
    Paul McElligott
     
  3. Paul McElligott

    Paul McElligott Cinematographer

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  4. BrianW

    BrianW Cinematographer

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    Brett: [​IMG]

    Before refinancing my home, I signed up for True Credit which is run by Trans Union, one of the big three credit reporting agencies. For $10/quarter, they monitor your credit report and email you when any new activity occurs, like when a new account is opened. They also provide services in the event any identity theft occurs. You also get to see your credit report (updated every quarter), which is very informative.

    I've used this service for perhaps two weeks, but so far I haven't experienced any buyer's remorse. If my identity ever gets stolen, I'll let you all know how good their service really is.

    On the other hand, I think most of us have viewed credit reporting agencies as "The Enemy (TM)." It's about time one of the big three credit reporting agencies stepped up to the plate and offerred a service that doesn't make us all feel like a commodity.
     
  5. Eric_L

    Eric_L Screenwriter

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    I have worked in the industry and can tell you that by and large identity theft is most often perpetuated by someone you know. Second most often by an employee of a place where you have applied for credit (jewelry stores and auto sales are the most common)

    Also it sometimes happens inadvertantly with people who have common names and/or senior/juniors.

    A few rules:

    1) Never put your social security number on your checks. I've seen it and it is about as stupid as it gets. Why not just get a shirt that says "Harley Davidson blows" and go to a hells angels meet while you're at it? You're just asking for it.

    2) Don't even keep your social security card on you. Get it out of your wallet and put it in a safe place at home. Really, it is useless. It won't even get you into a bar.

    3) Do not EVER give your social security number to anyone you haven't already decided to do business with. Not their staff, not thieir helper, not even their priest. Do not apply for credit until after you've agreed on a purchase. (car, jewelry, home electronics)

    4) Don't apply for credit for anything but homes and cars. Really, do you need 15 different store cards when the all take VISA? You just open yourself up.

    Do that and 99% of the risk of ID theft is gone. Here are the loose ends:

    1) Don't mail bills from your mailbox. Use a public mail drop or your office. If you want to be real anal, get a po box for incoming mail.

    2) Don't share any financial records with that deadbeat brother-in-law. or whoever.

    3) Subscribe to magazines under a false name. (also helps with junk mail as you can just have the mail with that name forwarded to oblivion and use a new one)

    4) Some would say forgo checks and use a debit cards. I say forgo checks and use a credit card (that you pay off regularly, keep balances on another card) Debit cards take cash out of your bank. If it is stolen you can get cleaned out and it can take a long time to be reimbursed.

    5) Beware what sites you buy from. Keep it with verifiable good sites.

    6) Never trust a man with two two first names or who shares a name with a city.
     
  6. LewB

    LewB Screenwriter

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    The company I work for has told all their medical insurance providers that they must stop using the employee's SSN as their account number.
    My auto/home insurance still does this [​IMG]
    On the home front, I bought a cross-cut shredder for about $50. Once I pay a bill, I put any piece of paper with an account number on it in the shredder. I also keep an eye on my credit card receipts, some only show the last 4 digit of the account while others show the entire account number. All credit card receipts are checked against the statement and then shredded.
     
  7. Denward

    Denward Supporting Actor

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    Eric_L: Excellent post!![​IMG]

    BrianW: The only problem with the automatic credit monitoring is that you're only covering TransUnion. If anything hits Equifax or Experian only, you still won't know about it. I've decided that I'm going to pull annual credit reports from all 3 agencies at a cost of about $40/year.
     
  8. BrianW

    BrianW Cinematographer

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  9. DavidMich

    DavidMich Stunt Coordinator

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    My debit card has the exact same protection as a Visa Credit Card. I am only liable for the first $50.
    It's a Wells Fargo Platinum Debit Card. (It was free when I opened the account up 6 years ago....and still is)

    Specify one of these from your bank, instead of a regular debit card.
     
  10. MarkHastings

    MarkHastings Executive Producer

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  11. BrianW

    BrianW Cinematographer

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  12. Eric_L

    Eric_L Screenwriter

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