Back in 2009 I was a victim of identity theft, and I am still suffering the repercussions. I had heard of identity theft protection measures, and I thought I had taken precautions, but evidentially not giving out my social security number over the phone or online and cutting up my old credit cards was not enough.
Regularly I saw the man in these pictures going through my trash cans in the alley behind my house. He was not your typical looking recycling scavenger. He was well dressed, wearing a stylish sweater, gold jewelry, and even latex gloves. He was driving a late-model luxury car.
I asked him politely to not rummage in my trash, and he said he was just looking for cardboard to recycle. When I looked in the trash can he had just walked away from, there was tons of cardboard still in the bin. Clearly, that was not actually what he was after.
When I confronted him another time and said that I wanted him to stop going through my trash, he began swearing at me. I got out my camera and took a picture of him and his BMW. He quickly got into his car and drove away. I called the police, and I sent these pictures to my neighborhood association, but the police didn’t bother following up.
I didn’t see the man after that, but about six months later I started getting calls from a collection agency. I kept telling the aggressive collectors, calling from Bombay, that they had the wrong person. I never opened an AT&T U-verse Account. But they had my full legal name and correct social security number, and they insisted I owed more than $1,200. They told me the address where the service was installed, at 22319 Roscoe Blvd., West Hills, CA 91304. They even told me the phone number associated with the account, 818-712-9026.
I had to file a police report and fill out an affidavit and pull together bills from the months in dispute showing that I had lived at my current address and in fact had my own legitimate AT&T account during the time in question.
Amazingly, even with the address and phone number of the perpetrators, the police did not investigate. No one cared, except for me.
Finally, the bill collectors stopped calling, but I got a negative rating on my credit report that took over a year to clear up. I had to pay for a fraud protection service to monitor my credit, and each time I apply for a credit card now I get a call to make sure it was actually me who applied.
It’s a pain. Had I known there were companies like IdentityHawk that make it their job to safeguard your assets, your property and your good name, I could have saved myself a lot of trouble.
I now have a shredder, and I take extra precautions, but you never can be too careful.