By Ryan Velez
Identity theft has become more and more complex than ever, with criminals using frighteningly innovative ways to get a hold of your information for their own purposes. Even those who know it best can still suffer from it, as writer Gerri Detweiler shared with Nav. Even with a 20+ year career in educating others about credit, identity theft included, one day, she found that a credit card was opened in her name at a shop she never visited. A few months after the fact, she covers what she did right and wrong to lead to this situation.
On the positive end, Detweiler credits regular monitoring of her credit with keeping her on top of developments like these. These often-free tools provide her with alerts, along with helping her see new inquiries or accounts that are put together. Equally important, she adds, is putting a fraud alert on her credit reports. “This will alert other issuers and service providers that they should verify my identity before extending credit. I experienced this in action a month later, when I bought a car and the financing manager called my cell phone to verify that I wasn’t a crook trying to impersonate me,” she shares.
However, even with this knowledge, Detweiler knows there are things she could have done differently before and after the fact. This includes not getting a police report. Even though the card issuer quickly closed the card in question, this is a useful thing to get as a precaution. A paper trail, in general, is a good thing to have to absolve yourself of responsibility for something that someone else did using your info. Sometimes, though, there are warning signs you may miss. Detweiler was alerted a few months prior that someone tried to use her name to open a card, but busy with various things, she didn’t act on this info, such as putting a fraud alert on her credit report. This one step would likely have stopped the perpetrator on a second attempt.
For added protection, you may want to consider making an investment in identity theft insurance. It’s easy to fall into the pit of thinking that you can handle this. But even if you can, there’s no reason to put yourself through the added struggle. Having a professional on your side who knows how these situations work can help defuse a dangerous situation for your finances.