ID Intensive: Presumed Guilty, Proven InnocentJanuary 05, 2018
Nicole* is a MyIDCare member in Oregon. Identity theft halfway across the country put her own living situation in jeopardy. When she found her way to MyIDCare, she finally found someone who was on her side. This is her story.
“I first realized something was wrong when I started getting automated calls from a utility company in Michigan asking me to call them. I thought it was strange but I couldn’t find any information online about the company leaving the messages. Then a person left a voicemail and I found out it was a collections agency. I called back, and they said they were collecting for an unpaid energy bill. I told them “This isn’t me,” and I was shocked when they read back to me my full Social Security Number. But I challenged it and eventually they sent me a letter dropping the case.
By that time, I was worried, so I did some research and discovered that my credit score was really low, even though I had never missed a payment on anything. The report showed lots of issues with a cable provider. Four different accounts had been opened in my name in Michigan, all within a block of each other, and they had racked up $3,000 in charges. I spent a lot of hours and missed a lot of work trying to resolve the problem myself. I met with a detective at the local cable provider office and got nowhere. In the meantime, I had just moved, and the low credit score caused issues with my landlord because I couldn’t open utility accounts.
Eventually, I got a break. One of the bogus cable accounts had used one of my old email accounts that turned out to be still active. I checked that account and found an email saying that I could have been part of a major retail breach and so was eligible for identity protection and recovery with MyIDCare. When I got connected with the right intake person, it was like the first sigh of relief that I had had in a very long time. Anthony spent time with me going over all of my paperwork. It was really easy. It turned out he didn’t even need all the papers I had spent so much time collecting.
Once I was set up with my recovery advocate, we were able to handle most things by email. I sent her documents, she worked with the cable company and cleared up some other fraudulent credit inquiries, and then she sent me confirmation that it was a closed case. I also asked MyIDCare to put a freeze on my credit reports to block any more fraudulent activity. I can control the freeze myself, and it gives me more peace of mind.
Identity theft is a terrible feeling. I was surprised that businesses were so unwilling to help. Instead, I felt feel like everyone was against me and I was presumed guilty. The more I tried to fix it myself, the more time I lost and the more frustrated I got. Identity theft must happen fairly often, yet these large corporations didn’t seem to be able to prevent fraudulent accounts being set up or have a process for handling it, and the collection agencies were so unprofessional.”