How do you know you’re watching television with a Consumerist editor? Our commenters will probably formulate all kinds of punchlines for that setup, but last night, I was half paying attention to former President Bill Clinton’s speech at the Democratic National Convention on CNN when I happened to see an elderly supporter waving her Medicare card at the camera. Her name and Social Security number were completely legible. “We can read her card! Stop showing that!” I shouted at the TV. The people on the television never listen to personal finance bloggers who are shouting at them.
Sometimes, timing can be everything. Catching a fly ball, running into an old friend on the street, buying a winning lottery ticket on your way home from work. One man had great timing when he went into his local bank to discuss some checks forged in his name for around $700. While there, he happened to run into the man who allegedly stole his identity. Convenient!
Stealing anyone’s identity is wrong, no matter who it is, but guess what? If you pretend you’re Jack Nicholson instead of just some regular dude, you’re a lot more likely to get busted. Such was the case for a scammer in Brazil recently, who tried to pass himself off as the actor.
Identity theft can scare the bejeezus out of anyone — drained bank accounts, credit cards set up in your name, purloined Social Security numbers, oh my — but that doesn’t necessarily means you should buy into an expensive credit protection service. Our wise older siblings at Consumer Reports break it down in a new installment of Money Adviser.
If someone swipes your credit card info and goes on a spending spree, there’s a decent chance the company will catch the fraud, freeze your account and refund your money. Things can get trickier when the thief is more careful about his purchases, buying low-cost items at irregular intervals.
It’s a measure of the brazenness and ubiquity of identity theft that a U.S. Senator has become the latest victim of credit card fraud. Thieves stole the credit card numbers belonging to Senator Daniel Inouye (D) of Hawaii, embedded them on the magnetic strip of a fake credit card, and went on a $12,000 Walmart shopping spree.
If you’ve ever wondered how long the effects of ID theft can linger, just ask the upstate New York woman who has been battling National Grid for years because the utility company won’t believe she isn’t the same person who owes $4,800 on an account opened 18 years ago, when she was only seven years old.
One way to protect yourself from identity theft is to “freeze” your credit report. This means that no new lines of credit can be opened in your name because lenders are prevented from taking a look at your credit report. This stops identity thieves from opening credit cards under your name and going on spending sprees. It also means extra hassle for you when you want to legitimately open credit. There’s always a tradeoff between security and convenience. Here’s how to do it.
Even if you’ve never seen the 1989 comedy Weekend At Bernie’s — or its inexcusable 1993 sequel — it’s likely you’re at least familiar with its tale of two morons lugging around a dead body and hilariously pretending it’s still alive. And while it’s all fun and games when you see the film at 4 a.m. on TBS, two men in Denver found out it’s not only not-funny to do the same thing in the real world, it could also land you in jail.
After Yuriy’s complaint — Amex was addressing his bills to his mother and had her as the legal name on the account — went up on Consumerist, and he sent them an EECB, he got results.
A big part of one’s psychological development is building an individual identity that is distinct from one’s parents. So it’s a bit of a setback for Yuriy when Amex has him confused with his mother. He has an Amex card that’s attached to his social security number, but somehow his mother is the legal name on the account and the statements are addressed to her. Dealing with customer service has been fruitless. Is Amex trying to induce a Psycho-esque syndrome in Norman, er, I mean, Yuriy?
Armed with only an illegal cellphone and a cadre of secret shoppers, an inmate at the nation’s largest single federal prison was able to coordinate upwards of $1 million in credit card fraud in the outside world.
One of the side effects of someone using your identity to open up a bunch of accounts and leaving you saddled with the bills is that your credit history gets trashed, which means you get victimized a second time over as your real creditors jack up your interest rates and take other adverse action. Your bank account could even get frozen, making you late on some bills. But before you go plead your case to get your credit restored with them, you’ll want to fix some of the fraudulent accounts first.
A suspected identity thief in the Sunshine State hid stolen items where the sun don’t shine.
Sony’s PlayStation Network has been down for more than three weeks, during which the company hasn’t been able to definitively state whether or not users’ credit card information was compromised. But in a letter sent to game publishers, Sony writes that it’s seen no proof that such data was hacked.
Another thing that can suck about having your identity stolen is that the crook can rack up crimes in your name. That’s what happened to one University of Georgia student who opened up the campus paper to find his name underneath the mug shot of another young man for a DUI, reports Red And Black.