Wednesday, August 29, 2012

A Stolen Identity

There are two telephone calls you do not want to receive on vacation - 1) that someone was sick or hurt, or 2) that someone stole your identity.

Last week, some NASCAR loving soul pretended to be Prosecutor's Discretion for a few days.  This is not a slight against NASCAR, but a truth.  See, this fan was so enamored with the the sport that he used my debit card to spend some money at a NASCAR track in Michigan.  He (I'm not sure, but I'm assuming the culprit was male) then got so tired after pretending to be me all day (most days I'm exhausted after it), that he booked a room under my name.

Poor fellow must have been pooped after such a hard day.

The only way I learned of it was a timely phone call from the watchful eyes of my bank.  The major banks all have fraud monitoring departments.  They watch for unusual activity and once they saw numerous transactions in Michigan (I reside in New York) they called me to check in.

I was on vacation anyway so I figured it was them checking in on my use while on vacation.  Turns out, the use was thousands of miles away from where I was.  If not for the phone call, I don't know when I would have discovered the fraud.

The kicker?  My debit card was tucked safely in my wallet, but somehow they were still using it.  I'm tempted to open a file and start sending subpoenas out all over the country.  But I know conducting my own investigation where I've been the victim is improper.  Plus, the problem with identity theft like this is there is very little chance the offenders will be caught.  It is so easy to mask a person's identity on the internet and also easy to deny culpability.

Most identity thefts we prosecute are for people who steal licenses and credit cards and use them at stores.  State DA offices usually do not have the resources or knowledge to track interstate investigations.

Oh, and this is the second time this has happened to me.  The first was years ago when someone went to a ski resort using my card.  I guess people just like letting me pay for vacations.  But this doesn't compare to my brother who once received a tax bill from Kentucky for tens of thousands of dollars.  The problem was that he never lived in Kentucky or worked there.  It turned out an illegal immigrant had been using his name and social security number to work for years, without paying taxes.

Identity theft is rampant and only increases with technological advances.  On Friday, I'll discuss certain identity theft related crimes and how we prosecute them.

For now, despite all the bad press the big banks get, I appreciate that they are looking out for me.

4 comments:

  1. thanks for sharing.

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  2. That is really scary. I know people who have had similar experiences. It really stinks!

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  3. It seems like you had quite an experience with this unfortunate incident. Any updates on your case? It is true that identity theft became rampant with the advancement of technology. Many offenders found ways to steal names, pins and documents from unsuspecting victims. To prevent this from happening, safeguard all personal and confidential information all the time. Also, keep your bank’s hotlines and immediately contact them if you suspect any anomalies on your account.

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    1. No updates unfortunately. That is great advice Annie. Also, we should check our credit reports once a year to see if there is anything wrong.

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